Who was St. Barbara?

St. Barbara was the daughter of a prominent citizen of Heliopolis (modern Baalbek in Lebanon) and a pagan, whose name was Dioscorus.  Dioscorus sequestered his beautiful, intelligent, young daughter in a tower to protect her, providing her with every possible comfort.  Looking out at the landscape and the sky from the window of her tower, by the grace of God Barbara came to faith in the Creator of the Universe.  While her father was absent on a long journey, Barbara heard about the Christian Faith (perhaps from her attendants), how the Creator Himself had become a man out of love for his creation, had been crucified for the salvation of the world, and had risen from the dead, raising all mankind with Himself.  Barbara's heart burned with love for Christ.  When, somewhat later, a priest, disguised as a peddler, came through Heliopolis, Barbara was baptized.

Now, Dioscorus had arranged for a bathhouse, such as the Romans liked to use, to be built near the tower during his absence.  Observing the construction of this building, Barbara noticed that it had only two windows.  She took it upon herself to instruct the builders to change the plans to include three windows instead, in honor of the Holy Trinity.

When Dioscorus returned, he was puzzled to see three windows where he had planned two.  The workmen told him it was his daughter's directive to make the change.  He questioned his daughter about this, and Barbara confessed her newly found Christian Faith to her father.  Dioscorus was so enraged that Barbara fled, escaping into the mountains nearby.  But Dioscorus pursued her there and dragged her back to the city.  When he found that, despite deprivations, threats, and beating, his daughter was adamant about her newly found faith in Christ, he turned her over to Marcian, the governor of the city.  Marcian sought to persuade Barbara to offer incense to Ceasar and the pagan gods and thus escape death, but she firmly refused.  She was then put to severe torture.  A certain woman, Julianna, seeing Barbara's courage and unyielding faith in the midst of her sufferings, stepped forward and declared her faith in Christ too.  Following tortures even harsher than the first, the two women were taken to the place of execution.  There, Barbara was beheaded at the hand of her own father, Dioscorus, and Julianna was put to death by the executioner.  They suffered and received their crowns of martyrdom in the year 306 A.D.

The sacred and wonderworking relics of St. Barbara were for a long time kept in Constantinople.  Then in the 12th century, they were transferred to Kiev, when the daughter of the Byzantine Emporer Alexius Comnenus, Barbara, was given in marriage to the Great Prince Sviatopolk of Kiev.  The relic at St. Barbara Monastery, received in 1997, was taken from these principal relics in Kiev.


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