St. Barbara of Izmit is thought to have lived about the year 300. Much information about her has been lost and the corners have been filled in by faith and legends. St. Barbara was said to be an extremely beautiful daughter of a wealthy pagan named Dioscorus, who lived near Nicomedia in Asia Minor. Fearful of losing his gorgeous daughter, he jealously shut her up in a tower to protect her from the outside world.
Shortly before embarking on a journey, Dioscorus commissioned a sumptuous bathhouse to be built for her. During her father's journey, St. Barbara spent much time in contemplation. She was attracted to the Christian faith and the beauty of God reflected in nature. Rejecting the idols of her parents' religion, she was baptized and modified her father's approved design of the bathhouse to include a third window to honor the Trinity. When Dioscorus returned, he was enraged by his daughter's conversion to Christianity and modification of his design.
In his anger, he delivered her to civil authorities who ordered her tortured and beheaded. It is said that Dioscorus himself carried out the death sentence and on his way home was struck by lightning and reduced to ashes.
St. Barbara is included among the 14 Holy Helper Saints. She is invoked for protection during thunderstorms, fires and sudden death and is also the patron saint of artillerymen, miners and prisoners. Her feast day is celebrated on December 4. She is often depicted with the tower of three windows, the palm branch of a martyr's victory, the chalice of salvation with the Bread of Life, and the sword of a protector.
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