Santa Barbara

From time to time, you will see bas-reliefs that look like this around Venice. I wondered who this represented, and now I know who it is, it’s Santa Barbara.


She is the patron saint of  artillerymen, military engineers, miners and others who work with explosives,  her feast day is 4 December. 

The tower in her left hand represents the one in which her father detained her, to keep her from the evils of the external world. She had secretly become a Christian, and when she was condemned to death by beheading, one legend relates that her father carried out this sentence. He got his comeuppance when he was struck by lightning, and consumed in flames.

That is a palm branch in her right hand; sometimes she is shown with  cannons or cannon barrels.

So, when you see a depiction that looks something like this, you’ll recognise this martyr.


Here she is, standing on a cannon barrel



PS You may also spot this pretty lady, whose name is also Barbara, but I can’t verify that she is a saint!




Filed under Venice

17 responses to “Santa Barbara

  1. So she was “cannonized”? Always wondered where that word came from.
    And it is a very modern impressionistic tower.
    Sorry, couldn’t resist.


  2. Yes, FS, she was elevated on a cannon, and that is an impressionistic tower beside her.


  3. Sono D. Chicago

    Tell us the truth–was Barbara standing on a cannon when that last photo was taken?

    If not, why not?


  4. Thank you very very very much for this story, it’s so interesting and I love when I can understand a depiction of a saint (they always have so many meanings and things that I don’t understand).
    The weather is better today, and tomorrow it will be sunny and warmer.


    • You are very, very, very welcome Daniela! I was so happy to work out who she was.

      Yes, I am happy with the weather today, yesterday was a big surprise to many people.


  5. MaryK

    I could send you my warm weather and sunshine Yvonne – I’m quite over it. Another day of 30+c here and no rain in sight! Those big flakes of snow seem somewhat attractive, although I’m sure you’re sick of the rain…..


  6. Bert

    This looks like a good them for a treasure hunt, Yvonne. I’ve no idea where any of them are, but I might guess near Santa Maria Formosa, as there’s a famous painting by Plama il Vecchio of Santa Barbara in there. Did you know that on Burano there’s a chapel of S Barbara where her relics arrived on 4 December 1811. It’s right next to the church of San Martino. Who is the saint next to the Ponte delle Bande on the Formosa side?


  7. Only time will tell about our friend Barb.
    Wishing you both a break in the weather….but the 10 day forecast is not looking good;-(


  8. Barb

    There I was, reading along, thinking how interesting this will be to Lee, our expert on mortars, when I came to the last photo. I almost choked on my coffee!


  9. Jo

    Thank you Yvonne – yet more interesting details to search for on our next trip .


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