St. Barbara Did she really exist?


#1

I belong to a parish named St. Barbara. I have heard before that she may not of even existed. How can a church be named after someone who may or may not have existed? And then how is she then a Saint?


#2

I have never heard this before.

Here is a site you might want to look at:
catholic-forum.com/saints/saintb01.htm

Monica


#3

“While there were undoubtedly beautiful converts named Barbara, this saint is legend, and her cultus developed when pious fiction was mistaken for history.”

Well what does that mean?


#4

It means that there is no solid hard evidence that the legends about St. Barbara are true.

It doesn’t mean that a “St. Barbara” has been “de-sainted”, or that mistakes were made in sainting her in the first place.

I once belonged to a parish named St. Christopher’s. It did not change its name after 1969, it is still here. Just because there is not the “evidence” that the legendary Christopher lived (as opposed to evidence that St. Peter, for example, our first Pope, really existed), does not mean that one cannot honor the name Christopher (Christ bearer) or even BELIEVE in him, WITHOUT evidence.

There is no hard and fast evidence about Barbara–but there is nothing to say that a sainted woman named Barbara did not exist–perhaps even several saints of that name–and that we should not honor that name and the saintly behavior we should strive to emulate.

So enjoy going to St. Barbara’s. Believe as much or as little of the legends as you like, provided you do not fall into the error of thinking that since there is no evidence for her, that you must hold the legends as FALSE, or that belief is WRONG.

If it REALLY bothers you that there may not have been a Saint Barbara who lived in a particular year, was martyred by a particular person, etc., then for goodness sake find a parish of St. John the Baptist or the Sacred Heart etc. The parishoners in a given church should be proud of their patron or saint, don’t you think?


#5

I am quite sure that there must be a St. Barbara. Surely, even if not canonized, there is someone in heaven who was named Barbara in this life.


#6

At least this Greek Orthodox parish seems to believe that she existed!


#7

[quote=Tantum ergo]It means that there is no solid hard evidence that the legends about St. Barbara are true.

It doesn’t mean that a “St. Barbara” has been “de-sainted”, or that mistakes were made in sainting her in the first place.

I once belonged to a parish named St. Christopher’s. It did not change its name after 1969, it is still here. Just because there is not the “evidence” that the legendary Christopher lived (as opposed to evidence that St. Peter, for example, our first Pope, really existed), does not mean that one cannot honor the name Christopher (Christ bearer) or even BELIEVE in him, WITHOUT evidence.

There is no hard and fast evidence about Barbara–but there is nothing to say that a sainted woman named Barbara did not exist–perhaps even several saints of that name–and that we should not honor that name and the saintly behavior we should strive to emulate.

So enjoy going to St. Barbara’s. Believe as much or as little of the legends as you like, provided you do not fall into the error of thinking that since there is no evidence for her, that you must hold the legends as FALSE, or that belief is WRONG.

If it REALLY bothers you that there may not have been a Saint Barbara who lived in a particular year, was martyred by a particular person, etc., then for goodness sake find a parish of St. John the Baptist or the Sacred Heart etc. The parishoners in a given church should be proud of their patron or saint, don’t you think?
[/quote]

Hi,
All I meant was I don’t understand why someone is honored as a Saint when people say she didn’t even exist - it just doen’t make much sense to me. The funny thing is, there is a whole story about her. Some people at out parish said she is a fictional person, so how do non-real people with a story get to be Saints. So Could I make up a story and say hey this person is a Saint?
I just don’t understand it, who else wasn’t real, that we honor as a Saint?


#8

Some early saints are not as well documented as others. Her entry at New Advent is here.. Personally, while the facts of her existence are more obscure than other saints, I don’t think it can be stated with certainty that she did not exist. I rather think you will be able to get the complete story from her in heaven. After all, a thousand years from now, people may find it difficult to prove that you or I existed.


#9

I should point out that St. Barbara is the patron saint of the artillery. The U.S. Army actually has an Order of St. Barbara that artillery soldiers can belong to, if they are selected by those within the Order. I first learned about when I was in Basic Training/AIT at Fort Sill (the Field Artillery Training School). Whether she was real or not, I don’t know.

God Bless!


#10

[quote=The Iambic Pen]I should point out that St. Barbara is the patron saint of the artillery. The U.S. Army actually has an Order of St. Barbara that artillery soldiers can belong to, if they are selected by those within the Order. I first learned about when I was in Basic Training/AIT at Fort Sill (the Field Artillery Training School). Whether she was real or not, I don’t know.

God Bless!
[/quote]

Saint Barbara is indeed the patron saint of Artillerymen (who in early times were liable to be burned when they mixed up and handled powder.)


#11

St.Barbara lived in the 4th century and 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. She 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. We should pray often against a sudden and unprovided death; and, above all, that we may be strengthened by the Holy Viaticum (Last Sacraments) against the dangers of our last hour.


#12

Thanks everyone.


#13

[quote=Tantum ergo]It means that there is no solid hard evidence that the legends about St. Barbara are true.

It doesn’t mean that a “St. Barbara” has been “de-sainted”, or that mistakes were made in sainting her in the first place.

I once belonged to a parish named St. Christopher’s. It did not change its name after 1969, it is still here. Just because there is not the “evidence” that the legendary Christopher lived (as opposed to evidence that St. Peter, for example, our first Pope, really existed), does not mean that one cannot honor the name Christopher (Christ bearer) or even BELIEVE in him, WITHOUT evidence.
[/quote]

Believing without evidence is irrational.

As for Christopher - see this: cathnews.com/news/408/84.php

Some pics: ucc.ie/milmart/Christopher.html

and for further details on what is mentioned in that article, this: The Origin of the Cult of St. Christopher

And this: beyond-the-pale.co.uk/dogsaints.htm ##

There is no hard and fast evidence about Barbara–but there is nothing to say that a sainted woman named Barbara did not exist–perhaps even several saints of that name–and that we should not honor that name and the saintly behavior we should strive to emulate.

So enjoy going to St. Barbara’s. Believe as much or as little of the legends as you like, provided you do not fall into the error of thinking that since there is no evidence for her, that you must hold the legends as FALSE, or that belief is WRONG.

If it REALLY bothers you that there may not have been a Saint Barbara who lived in a particular year, was martyred by a particular person, etc., then for goodness sake find a parish of St. John the Baptist or the Sacred Heart etc. The parishoners in a given church should be proud of their patron or saint, don’t you think?


closed #14

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