A Garner of Saints – Saint Barbara

detail of a painting of Saint Barbara by Lattanzio Gambara, date unknown; photographed by RobyBS89; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

(French Barbe) The daughter of a Pagan noble named Dioscorus, who lived at Nicomedia in the time of the Emperor Maximian. Dioscorus built a lofty tower in which he put his lovely daughter, so that no one should see her, and although many desired her in marriage, she refused them all, being inspired by the spirit of Christianity. In the bath constructed in the tower Dioscorus ordered two windows to be made, but Barbara caused a third to be pierced; and when she went to the bath she made the sign of the Cross with her finger, and it immediately appeared as if it had been graven in the marble. Descending into the water she prayed and baptized herself, and when she came out she spat in the faces of the false idols. When her father returned and asked why she had made three windows, she replied that there are three lights which illuminate the world, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Hearing this her father drew his sword and pursued her, but she prayed to God, the walls opened, and she was carried to a mountain where two shepherds were grazing their sheep. When the father came there he asked the shepherds if they had seen his daughter, and one denied with an oath, hoping to save her, but the other pointed her out with his finger, and immediately he and his sheep were turned into stones. Meanwhile Dioscorus dragged his daughter by the hair before the praetor. Here she declared that the idols were nothing but demons, so that the praetor ordered her to be stripped and lashed with thongs. He then sent her to prison, where Christ appeared to her and exhorted her to be of good courage. Brought before the proconsul the following morning, she persisted in her faith, so that he ordered flaming torches to be applied to her sides, had her breasts cut off, and caused her to be dragged naked through the city. But as she was being led she prayed, and an angel appeared, who clothed her in a white garment and healed her breasts and wounds. Then the proconsul commanded that she should be beheaded, but her father carried her off to the mountain where he had first taken her, and cut off her head with his own hand. No sooner had he accomplished this impious act than fire from heaven consumed him. The body of Barbara was buried by a Christian of Nicomedia named Valentianus. She is the patroness of gunners. 4th December.


  • Most frequently carries or stands beside a tower with three windows, though the number of these is not invariable.
  • Sometimes holds a cup with the host, or stands beside a piece of artillery.

MLA Citation

  • Allen Banks Hinds, M.A. “Saint Barbara”. A Garner of Saints, 1900. CatholicSaints.Info. 15 April 2017. Web. 16 July 2018. <>