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04. December 2008

Saint Barbara honoured

On December 4, tunnel construction workers employed by Ósafl in Bolungarvík celebrated Saint Barbara’s Day in commemoration of the patron saint of miners. Because many of Ósafl’s employees are Catholic, it was considered appropriate to hold a combined celebration for Christmas and Saint Barbara’s Day. The festivities began with attendees entering the tunnel, where a Catholic priest blessed two statues, one of which was placed in a specially prepared niche so that the image of Saint Barbara is visible to motorists as they enter the tunnel. A few speakers addressed the guests, and the men’s choir Ernir performed several musical selections. After the ceremony, employees held a party and enjoyed delicious and appetising refreshments served at the Ósafl construction site near Ós in Bolungarvík.

An important figure in the Catholic faith, Saint Barbara is the patron saint of miners, armourers, stonemasons, geologists, and explosives technicians. She is also invoked to protect fire-fighters, bricklayers, and lighthouse keepers. Saint Barbara cares for the sick and protects them against fire.

Saint Barbara, daughter of the pagan Roman despot Dioscorus, is said to have been born in Nicomedia, Turkey, in the year A.D. 218. Barbara was considered extremely beautiful, but Dioscorus wished to keep her away from the lascivious eyes of prospective suitors. One day when he came home after an extended absence, he found that Barbara had converted to Christianity and had attended a school where she was taught by a Christian physician. Dioscorus immediately ordered the construction of a private dwelling where his daughter was to be held captive. But Barbara resisted. She had three windows built in the bedroom instead of the customary two, as a symbol of her faith in the Holy Trinity. She also refused to marry the man whom her father had chosen for her. For these defiant actions and others, Barbara was sentenced to death by beheading. As her father stood over her dead body, sword in hand, after having dealt the fatal blow himself, lightning struck the sword and killed him instantly, in an event viewed as symbolic of God’s wrath.

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