Saint Barbara’s Day, December 4, is celebrated among many different professions who worked with cannon and explosives. Miners and tunnellers regard Santa Barbara as their patron saint and protector as well as today’s artillery formations in many countries armies. Earlier in history powder magazine of a ship or fortress were believed to be protected by Santa Barbara from suddenly exploding.
Benefits for building facilities underground
Santa Barbara was an early Christian saint, and is thought to have lived in today’s Turkey in the 3rd century.
Having secretly become a Christian against her father’s will, she was condemned to death by beheading. Her father himself carried out the death-sentence. As punishment for this, he was struck by lightning and his body was consumed by flame. Barbara was buried by a Christian, Valentinus, and her tomb became the site of miracles.
She was removed from the General Roman Calendar in the 1969 revision, because of doubts about the historicity of her legend, though not from the Catholic Church’s list of saints.
Tradition of miners and tunnellers
In many countries small statues of her are placed at the tunnel portal to watch over the tunnel and those working within it during construction. This was a tradition also followed at the Hallandsås Tunnel construction, where a large variety of international workers from countries with Catholic or Greek Orthodox tradition were employed.
In Hallandsås Tunnel the rural dean John Liljeblad attended the blessing which
collected a bunch of workers on the site at the time. The Santa Barbara statue was taken from her place in the tunnel portal and the blessing ceremony was held at the far end of the tunnel. The workers felt it was incredibly important and appreciated that the ceremony was carried out every year.