Dec 16, 2011

St Barbara of Heliopolis, Thunder and Lightning patroness

One of the Fourteen  Holy Helpers, this Miraculous Saint, is  venerated as  the patron Saint of the artillery, those that work with guns, explosive’s and those in dangerous, life threatening professions, and according to Eastern Orthodox Church, she is petitioned  for delivery against sudden death and soldiers [1]

It is said that Barbara had  lived in Syria, in the town of Heliopolis, as a daughter of wealthy pagan Disocores, who had, after the death of his wife devoted his life to his daughter, Barbara. Barbara had to live isolated, in a tower that her father had built for her, in luxury but also isolation and solitude. Experiencing the beauty of the nature from her tower windows, she started wondering about Creator, who she could not recognize  in vane Pagan idols. Barbara grew to be an extraordinary beautiful Young women, who had been refusing  all the suitors her father had chosen and brought to her. Deducting it might have been a result of her isolation, Dioscores had given her freedom of movement and socializing , with people she herself would chose. Upon arriving to the town, Barbara  had met Christian maidens who had taught her about Christianity , Creator Mundi, The Most Holy Trinity and Logos. Be it accidental or not ( G’d providence ) a priest arrived in town, introduced her to Christian mysteries even more , and baptized her.

Meanwhile Dioscores had been building a bathhouse, very luxurious and beautiful, with two windows on the south side. Using one of her father’s absences Barbara instructed workers to make 3  windows instead, symbolizing Holy Trinity, which had aggravated her father,  ferociously ,  as soon as he had seen it, and heard from Barbara that she has chosen the True G’d over profane idols. Barbara, however stood up for her beliefs, which had only further angered her father.
In moments of rage, he had beaten up his daughter and wanted to kill her with sword, but Barbara fled and escaped by means of miraculous  appearance of opening in the rock, leading her to a safety in  the mountain , where she was protected by two shepherds.
According to some stories, it was one of the two very shepherds that had betrayed her, and as punishment, he was turned to stone. Be it how it was, St Barbara was eventually caught and beaten badly by her father, then incarcerated , and tortured daily, starved,  and put to serious physical injuries. Over the night, she would pray , and the Lord Savior would heal her wounds. Certain women, named Juliana, in sympathy with the righteous virgin, and trying to defend her has lived up to similar fate, and was imprisoned, and tortured along St. Barbara. They were both wounded, and led naked throught the city peoples derision, but because of St. Barbara’s prayers they were eventually covered by splendid robe, which was  an act of Angelic intervention.

Dioscores finally decapitated St. Barbara and Martian soldiers decapitated Juliana. Soon , however, the wrath of the One True Righteous G’s  had befallen  on them, and they were both ( Disocores, and Martian, the city perfect ) struck down by the lightning. According to one version, the lightning had hit them on their way to town , while other version says how lightning had hit them in their residences/house.

St Barbara is often depicted in red and white clothes, holding chalice or miniature model of fortress she was imprissioned in. Sometimes the fortress is seen in background as well. The Sky above the Saint is often gloomy with indications of possible thunders. In Orthodox Christian iconography, her image is sometimes surrounded by smaller pictures depicting scenes from certain periods of her life.

The Cult of Saint Barbara in/among Balkan peninsula folk

St Barbara enjoys great reverence among Balkan peninsula folk, that almost borders with a "cult| ( much like some other Saints in this part of the world, such as Saint John, or Saint Cosmas and Damian ) , which exhibits great collection of beliefs and folk rites.
In Christianized areas ( most ) of Balkan peninsula, folk will not work heavy-duty jobs ( mostly reffering to physical country chores, like cattle work, mowing, wood cutting etc ) on this day, furthermore, women usually do not sew on this day. Instead women will cook up a specific meal , commonly called ( in Southern Slavic Language group ) “Varica”* . The meal is fairly simple, it’s made from  cooked  cereals of all sort, with an optional addition of Pumpkin or Sunflower seeds, and often addition of chopped fruit , Anise seed and/or honey to savor it, and make more pleasant. While cooking this meal, women must not utter a single word, it is done in pure silence. No additional water, or other ingredient was added after the meal was placed to be cooked on fire. Salt, for some ( to me unfamiliar ) reason was strictly prohibited as ingredient    of/in  this meal. When finished, the meal was served to all the household members,   each taking  at least a spoon, for it symbolized abundance and health, as well as honor to the Saint. Remaining would often be given to cattle.
According to old , Julian calendar, this Saint’s feast day in Orthodox Christian churches of Balkan peninsula is 17th of December, according to Church calendar 4th . Incidentally or not , 17th/18th December was the beginning day, for a seven day spiritual initiation/ journey  session in Balkan peninsula folk magick. Those folk ,  who wished  to become skilled in spiritual work, would “starting of ( St. ) Barbara’s day”  study the “art” for six days devotedly and on the sevenths day, would , sort of , become initiated, receiving to each person unique omen that they’ve succeed. The Seventh day (Initiation day ) of spiritual journey, would often fall on Equinox, again incidentally or not  [2]
This Saint is often petitioned by folk of Eastern Europe , when they believe they might be threatened by sudden or violent death. They would light a beeswax candle, obtained from church, though in modern day white or red candle are common choice as well, and would say following prayer, which is a troparion essentially [3] :

“Let us praise holy Barbara who has broken the snares of the enemy. By the help of the weapon of the Cross, she has escaped as a bird and flown Godwards.!”

Troparion, tone 4th

Hoodoo and Conjure

In Hoodoo St Barbra is patron Saint of  soldiers, mine workers, firefighters , prisoners, stone masons, or any other life threatening profession. In New Orleans Voodoo-Hoodoo, and Creole Voodoo, it’s syncretized with loa Chango, one of the Seven African powers and St. Barbara image is used to depict it sometimes.
In Syria, Lebanon and Palestine , much like in Balkanic countries, she is offered with White Barley, pomegranate seeds , sweetened with raisins, sugar and anise. [4]

- Plants associated with Saint Barbara include; Anise, Feverfew, Life everlasting and other than some of those, sugar can be added to her devotional oil.

- Colors associated with her are red and white , so should candles be , though they come in all sort of colors from certain suppliers :/
Prayers and novenas to St. Barbara are many, but here are just few

Prayer in Honor of St. Barbara

O God, Who didst adorn Thy holy virgin and martyr Barbara with extraordinary fortitude in the confession of the Faith, and didst console her in the most atrocious torments; grant us through her intercession perseverance in the fulfilment of Thy law and the grace of being fortified before our end with the holy sacraments, and of a happy death. Through Christ our Lord. Amen

Invocation of St. Barbara

Intrepid virgin and martyr, St. Barbara, through thy intercession come to my aid in all needs of my soul. Obtain for me the grace to be preserved from a sudden and unprovided death; assist me in my agony, when my senses are benumbed and I am in the throes of death. Then, O powerful patroness of the dying, come to my aid! Repel from me all the assaults and temptations of the evil one, and obtain for me the grace to receive before death the holy sacraments, that I breathe forth my soul confirmed in faith, hope, and charity, and be worthy to enter eternal glory. Amen [5]

NOTES: This article was composed and editeb by myself, so If You would like ti use it elswehere, provide the credits, such as Shadow of Shadow's magick place, or direct link to this post.
CREIDTS : and reffrence
[1] as said here
[2] According to folkloric writings of
Jasna Jojic Pavlovski[3] such belif might be based on Savior’s promise. Many pious Orthodox Christians are in the habit of chanting the troparion of St. Barbara each day, recalling the Savior's promise to her that those who remembered her and her sufferings would be preserved from a sudden, unexpected death, and would not depart this life without benefit of the Holy Mysteries of Christ  according to Orthowx wiki webpage on St Barbara, the troparion to St Barbara tone 4th mentioned above is from the same source, used here for educational purposes , without any ill will
[4] according to :
[5] Invocation and novena are from, posted for educative purposes here, with no ill will
explanation : as marked with * in text --> * varica - a noun in Serbian language from verb "variti" meaning "to brew" , hence the noun could somewhat tranlaste to "brewage" even though it does not reffer to a drink
IMAGES: Saint Barbara images used came from : and used for illustrative purposes only, without ill will

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