The 4th of the month, Memory of the Holy Great Martyr
BARBARA, and of her companion JULIANA who was
slain by the sword
Saint Barbara was the daughter of a rich pagan named Dioscurus who lived at Heliopolis in Syria,’ during the reign of the Emperor Maximian (284-305). She was exceedingly
beautiful and her father always kept a close watch over her. One day as he was about to set out on a long journey, he ordered that she should be locked up in the palace until his return, at the top of a high tower where no man would be able to see her. He had lavished riches of all kinds on her, and had given her a superior education, but he had not been able to prevent her exercising her acute intelligence, conformably to the image of God imprinted in everyone of us.
Through contemplating the reflection of the presence of God in nature, Barbara had come to the knowledge of the One God in Trinity and, turning aside from vanities, she felt in her heart a longing for Christ alone, the heavenly Bridegroom. While Dioscurus was away, a bath-house with two windows was being built on his instructions at the foot of the tower. Seeing the work going forward, Barbara told the builders to insert a third window so that the room would be lit by a triple light, symbolizing the threefold light of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, which enlightens every man who comes into the world.
When Dioscurus returned home with plans of a rich marriage for her, he met with a refusal, for she desired to consecrate her virginity to Christ. His surprise at this rebuff gave way to violent anger when he learnt that the third window had been added on her instructions. When he demanded all explanation, Barbara made the sign of the Cross and, showing him her three joined fingers, replied, ‘The Father the Son and the Holy Spirit, the whole of creation is illumined by this unique light, and mankind is saved by this sign.’
Beside himself with rage, Dioscurus seized his sword and would have cut off her head there and then, but fortunately the maiden escaped and took refuge in a mountain where she sheltered in the cleft of a rock that miraculously opened to receive her.
In the end her father found out where she was. He handed her over to the provincial Governor before whom she confessed her ardent faith in Christ, and poured scorn on the idols. She was cruelly beaten with repeated light blows that lacerated her flesh;
her sides were burnt and her head was bruised by heavy stones, so that when she was thrown at last into a dark dungeon, her whole body was nothing but one bleeding wound. That night the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to her surrounded by a radiant
light. He completely healed her and promised to assist her to the end of her contest.
The next day Barbara appeared before the tyrant for the second time. Amazed to see her unscathed, he had her put to more torments. He then ordered her to be stripped of her clothes and exposed to the ridicule of the populace; but the Lord would not
allow her virginal purity to be so profaned, and a ball of fire suddenly came down from the sky and clothed the young Martyr in a garment of light. Seeing the Saint’s endurance and the miracles by which God made known his favour, a young woman called Juliana declared that she too was a Christian and would take her stand with Barbara, She was seized at once and put to the same torments as her companion. In the end, the Governor decided that the two young women should be beheaded. Dioscurus, who had beheld the tormenting of his daughter from beginning to end without an ounce of pity, asked the Governor to let him cut off her head with his
own hands. On the mountain top where the execution was to take place, the two maidens offered their souls to the Lord at the same moment. Juliana was beheaded by the executioner and Barbara by him who was called her father. But vengeance from on high was not slow in coming, for as soon as the heartless Dioscurus began his
return journey, he was struck by a thunderbolt and reduced to ashes.
The Lives of the Saints of the Orthodox Church
By HIEROMONK MAKARIOS OF SIMONOS PETRA
Translated from the French by Christopher Hookway
Holy Convent of The Annunciation of Our Lady
Ormylia (Chalkidike) 1999