Saint Barbara

Feast Day - December 4

Patroness of Artillery, Artillerymen, Architects, Building
Contractors and Mathematicians

Saint BarbaraBarbara lived in the 4th century and was brought up as a heathen.  A tyrannical father, Dioscorus, had kept her jealously secluded in a lonely tower which he had built for that purpose.  Here, in her forced solitude, she gave herself to prayer and study, and contrived to receive instruction and Baptism in secret by a Christian priest.

Barbara resisted her father's wish that she marry.  Then on one occasion, during her father's absence, Barbara had three windows inserted into a bathhouse her father was constructing.  Her purpose was thereby to honor the Trinity.

Dioscorus was enraged by her action and by her conversion.  So he himself denounced her before the civil tribunal. S he was horribly tortured, and at last was beheaded.  Her own father, merciless to the last, acted as her executioner. God, however, speedily punished her persecutors.  While her soul was being borne by angels to Paradise, a flash of lightning struck Dioscorus, and he was hurried before the judgment seat of God.

The life of St. Barbara is a vivid reminder that there can be much anger in our world and in our lives.  Being in touch with God's presence in a very special way can do much toward relieving ourselves of our tendency to allow anger to control us.  St. Barbara has often been depicted in art; she is represented standing in a tower with three windows, carrying the palm of a martyr in her hand; often also she holds a chalice and sacramental wafer; sometimes cannon are displayed near her.



During her time in the tower, she kept a branch from a cherry tree which she watered with water from her cup. On the day of she was killed, the cherry branch she'd kept blossomed. From this comes "Barbarazweig," the custom of bringing branches into the house on December 4 to hopefully bloom on Christmas (some reserve the custom for the unmarried). Cherry blossom

Of course, the branches might not bloom at all, but if the temperature outside has been around 32 to 40 degrees for six weeks, they most likely will. Apple, chestnut, pear, peach, forsythia, plum, lilac and jasmine branches will work, also, but cherry is the tradition.

Cut stems today (the milder the weather, the better), looking for thinner branches with swollen buds. Mash the ends and put the branches in a vase of cool, not icy, water with a little sugar in it for several hours. Leave branches for a few days in a cool place. As soon as the buds appear to swell bring them into a warm room (not too close to the source of heat). Spritz them  from time to time with lukewarm water, and when the blooms appear, place the branches on a window sill to give them lots of light and keep them in cooler air so that the blooms will stay fresh longer. Change water every day. Once they are in full bloom, re-cut the stems and put them in water with a little sugar, a tiny bit of bleach, a penny and a dissolved aspirin.

If the branches bloom exactly on 25 December, it is a sign of "good luck," and the person whose branches produces the most blossoms is said to be "Mary's favorite." Maria von Trapp of the Trapp Family Singers (think "Sound of Music") wrote in "Around the Year with the Trapp Family" (Pantheon Books, 1955) that the Austrian legend is that if a person's branch blossoms on Christmas Day, he or she will be married in the following year :


Click here for more information on St Barbara


St. Patrick's Church at Moody Air Force Base