The patron saint of miners and tunnel builders
Many construction workers worldwide revere Saint Barbara as their patroness and preventer of mining and tunnelling accidents. She is a key female figure for early Christians, who were martyred for their beliefs in Roman times. Her name day on 4th December is observed by miners, and also by artillerymen, geologists, blasting specialists and others.
There are numerous versions of the legend of Saint Barbara. The Legenda Aurea of 1250 is regarded as the most famous and widely known of the histories of the saints. According to this tradition, Barbara was a young woman who lived in Nicomedia (in what is now Turkey) at the end of the third century.Her pagan father Dioscorus wanted to protect her from any contact with the world, not least to keep here away from the influences of Christianity. Whenever he was to be away from home therefore, he locked Barbara in a tower. Barbara nevertheless took up the Christian faith, and allowed herself to be baptised in secret. When she eventually revealed to her father what she had done, he drew his sword in rage, intending to kill her. But the praying Barbara was then swallowed by the rock opening up below her, and placed on a mountain. Her father nevertheless managed to find her, and tortured her in an attempt to make her renounce her Christian faith. Despite the worst-possible cruelty, Barbara remained firm in her beliefs. Christ appeared before her in the dungeon in the night, and healed her wounds. On the following day, 4th December, she was beheaded by her own father, who was then struck down by lightning and killed as a punishment.
The patron saint of tunnel builders
Since legend has it that Barbara was protected by a rock that opened up to give her shelter, miners chose her as their patron saint. Many mines therefore have underground shrines dedicated to Saint Barbara. There is one such shrine to Saint Barbara at the Preda tunnel portal, erected to give the workers courage and keep them safe.