Barbara ran for her life, her chest heaving as she sped through the streets of Heliopolis. For every step she took, her father took two, coming ever closer. His face was red and his fists clenched, his footsteps pounding the earth. Oh my sweet Jesus, Barbara prayed silently, protect me!
Suddenly, Barbara burst out of the town and into the meadow. As she ran, her feet tearing up the soft grass, she noticed that she no longer heard her father’s boots crashing behind her. Barbara risked a glance back, and almost tripped when she realized that a giant hill had moved and planted itself in between her and her father. With the faith of a mustard seed…you can move mountains. Thank you God… Barbara turned back around, and saw that another hill in front of her had opened, and seemed to be beckoning to her. She ran to the crevice, past two terrified shepherds, and the hill closed slightly behind her.
Barbara’s father however, would not be easily deterred. He had already ran around the hill, and now that he had lost sight of her, he turned to the shepherds.
“Hey, you two! Have you seen a girl run past here?”
The first shepherd looked from the angry, red-faced, scowling man to the hill, and shook his head quickly. “No, sir, I have not.”
The second shepherd laughed, and spat into the crevice where Barbara was hiding. “I sure did! She’s right in there.”
The moment he betrayed the young girl, the laughing shepherd was turned into stone, and his sheep shriveled into a swarm of locusts.
Paying no heed to the insects and the stone man, Barbara’s father dragged Barbara out of the hill’s gentle arms and began beating her into the shivering grass.
Saint Barbara is a lesser-known, but certainly not less important, young saint. She was a Greek martyr born in the mid-third century to a pagan father, who did everything he could to keep her away from God. Barbara’s father locked her in a tower for most of her young life, and when she grew of age, he tried to force her to marry young pagan men. However Barbara, who had already been secretly practicing her Christian faith, refused to marry any of them. Hoping to get her to change her mind by allowing her to interact with the pagan people around her, Barbara’s father released her from the tower and let her roam the city. Instead, Barbara used this freedom to meet a priest in secret and was baptized. Her father had built a bathhouse in their home, and Barbara ended up performing many healing miracles there. Finally, Barbara told her father that she was a Christian and that she would never worship his pagan gods or marry a pagan man. Full of rage, Barbara’s father tried to kill her with a sword, chasing her through the city. Although he was delayed by several miracles, he eventually caught her and beat her viciously. He locked her up again, starving her and torturing her, but she refused to deny her faith. He then led her through the streets naked, tearing at her skin with hooks and rakes. But Barbara prayed, and an angel clothed her in a robe. Several men tried to burn her with torches, but as soon as they got near her, the torches went out. Finally, Barbara’s persistent father had enough, and he cut off her head. Unfortunately for him, God gave Barbara one last miracle and struck her father down with lightning. Saint Barbara is now known as the patron saint of fireworks, lightning, fire, explosions, artillerymen, architects, mathematicians, and miners. Saint Barbara, always prayerful and relentless to the end, pray for us!
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