Saint Barbara, also known as the Great Martyr Barbara, is a Christian saint and martyr who is venerated in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Roman Catholic Churches. According to tradition, she was born around the year 286 in Heliopolis, Phoenicia (present-day Lebanon) and was the daughter of a wealthy pagan named Dioscorus.
As a young girl, Barbara was known to be very beautiful, which led her father to keep her locked away in a tower for years to protect her from the eyes of men. It is said that during her confinement, Barbara was visited by a priest who taught her about the Christian faith. She was so taken with the teachings of the faith that she converted and was baptized. Her father was very angry about her conversion. Barbara was tortured and executed by her own father for her Christian faith, and after her death her father was struck by lightning and died.
Barbara is the patron saint of armourers, artillerymen, architects, builders, miners, and anyone who works with explosives. She is also considered the patron saint of lightning and sudden death.
Saint Barbara is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, a group of saints venerated together in the Middle Ages for their intercession against various illnesses and afflictions.
Barbara's birthdate is not recorded in history, but she is believed to have been born around the year 286. Her death date is also not recorded, but it is believed that she was martyred around the year 305. She was canonized by the Eastern Orthodox Church in the 7th century and by the Roman Catholic Church in the 14th century. Her feast day is celebrated on December 4th.
Barbara is often depicted in Christian art holding a palm branch, a symbol of her martyrdom, and a tower, which is said to represent the tower where she was imprisoned by her father. Her image is also often accompanied by lightning bolts.