• 95557-000_1406332 Statuette Hl. Barbara © Technisches Museum Wien, Foto: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Energy & Mining

Saint Barbara on duty


The question of whether or not to believe does not even enter into it. To this day Saint Barbara is on duty at numerous oil exploration sites as the patron saint of miners – admittedly only in countries with a Christian tradition.

Whether she’s carved out of solid wood, natural or painted, cast in solid metal with a bronze finish or cast in pewter, many people working in the oil industry hope for Saint Barbara’s direct protection, as demonstrated by her presence in statue form at oil drilling operations. Her intercession is meant to ward off mining disasters and prevent accidents. Although there is some doubt as to the martyr’s actual historical existence, she remains one of the most popular saints. She is usually portrayed with a tower where she was kept locked up by her pagan father, who was keen to preserve his beautiful daughter from the marriage market – just one of the legends surrounding the saint, who in her banishment secretly became a Christian. Incensed, her father surrendered his daughter to the Roman governor as she refused to renounce her Christian faith. Cruelly tortured, she was condemned to death by beheading, her father himself carrying out the sentence. As a punishment for this, he was then struck by lightning, which is why Saint Barbara is often associated with lightning and storms. As the patron saint of artillerymen, her image was also often found in arsenals, armouries, munitions dumps and powder magazines. Saint Barbara’s feast day is December 4.

Inv.Nr. 9653
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