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The Legend of Santa Barbara - 

Patron Saint of Cannoneers and Ordnance Men

 

 

Santa Barbara, virgin and martyr, is said to have lived at the close of the third and beginning of the fourth century of the Christian era. in the Roman, the Greek, and the Russian calendars her feast day is celebrated on 4 December, the presumed anniversary of her martyrdom.

Born the daughter of the wealthy Dioscorus, she grew to maidenhood so incomparably beautiful that her father shut her up in a high tower for safekeeping.  Guarded by her virtue even more than by her tower, she studied deeply in philosophy until as she grew to be as surpassing in learning and character as she was in loveliness.  Her studies and thoughts led her to see the folly of heathenism and she secretly became a Christian.

Dioscorus, discovering that his daughter was a Christian, denounced her to the governor of the province, Marcian or Martianus. After cruel tortures she was condemned to be beheaded, and her inhuman father himself acted as her executioner. For this Dioscorus was struck by lightning and wholly consumed.  Ever since this exemplary vengeance, Santa Barbara has been generally considered as the protectress against thunder, lightning and explosive flame of all kinds, becoming thus by an easy analogy- when gunpowder appeared-the patron saint of cannoneers and ordnance men.  the cannoneers of Lillie, in France,  commissioned under royal letters patent in 1417 as the “confreres de Sainte Barbe,” were among the first to recognize her as a patroness and guardian.  Their example was speedily followed through France, Italy, Germany, and other European countries.

A picture of Santa Barbara hangs in the office of the Chief of the Bureau of Naval Ordnance...

 

 

 

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Updated

August 25, 2014

 

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