[St. Pachomius Library]

St. Barbara the Great-Martyr

III Century?
Because no circumstantial evidence connects St. Barbara to a particular place or a particular time, the Roman church has suppressed the feast of this popular saint. She is said to have been the daughter of a pagan priest, Dioscorus, who shut her in a tower, either because she refused to marry as he wished or because he feared she might learn of Christianity. She became a Christian, and her father denounced her to the prefect. Dioscorus was ordered to kill his daughter. He beheaded her on a mountain and was killed by lightning as he came down from the place of martyrdom. The setting of Barbara's vita is variously Antioch, Heliopolis, Rome, or Tuscany, and the dates range from c. 200 to 313. Written record of her cult, which was widespread in the Middle Ages, dates from the VII Century, and the earliest known images of her date from the VIII Century. The Greek text, which would be the oldest version of her passion, is now lost.

Karen Rae Keck


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