St. Barbara-Patron Saint of the Artillery


From Bill Burke, HQ Battery CO 1970-71

"You mentioned St. Barbara in your most recent email and it immediately brought back memories of St. Barbara celebrations by Field Artillery units I served with over the years.  Many were Artillery Officer Dining-In(s), usually held in a dining room at the Officers club and  usually closed off so that other club patrons wouldn’t inadvertently wonder in.  They were not secret, but mostly it was to protect a group gathered to let their hair down and sometimes got a little rowdy.  It was a dress blues occasion and presided over by “Mr. Bones,” the most junior lieutenant in the organization.  This organization, for me, was always Division Artillery.  Toasts were made to the President of the United States, the United States Army, the Field Artillery, the Division, and Division Artillery.  Afterwards, speeches made and soliloquies given, usually with much humor and ”a few” drinks.  Laughter was always abundant and more drinks were had as the night “rolled” on.  It built camaraderie  between all present, regardless of unit.  The wildest dining-ins were in Germany.   

Also, I was lucky enough to be initiated into The Honorable Order of Saint Barbara many years back.  It is an honor not easily given out and I remain as proud of it as most anything else I associate with my time in the Army.  There was a selection process and the honor was being respected enough by fellow artillerymen to nominated.  I’m attaching a few pictures of the mementoes that are  given upon initiation. 

Of course we all know the history behind St. Barbara, but I was surprised to find in the narrative below, from Wikipedia, that some of her relics (bones) are preserved here in the United States at St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Bloomingdale, Illinois. If I ever pass though, it may be worth a stop."


Saint Barbara became the patron saint of artillerymen. She is also traditionally the patron of armourers, military engineers, gunsmiths, tunnellers, miners and anyone else who worked with cannon and explosives. She is invoked against thunder and lightning and all accidents arising from explosions of gunpowder. She is venerated by Catholics who face the danger of sudden and violent death in work.

Saint Barbara is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. Her association with the lightning that killed her father has caused her to be invoked against lightning and fire; by association with explosions, she is also the patron of artillery and mining. Her feast on December 4 was included in the Tridentine Calendar, having been introduced in Rome in the 12th century. In 1729, that date was assigned to the celebration of Saint Peter Chrysologus, reducing that of Saint Barbara to a commemoration in his Mass.[13] In 1969, because the accounts of her life and martyrdom were judged to be entirely fabulous, lacking clarity even about the place of her martyrdom, it was removed from that calendar.[14] But she is still mentioned in the Roman Martyrology,[15] which, in addition, lists another ten martyr saints named Barbara.

In the 12th century, the relics of Saint Barbara were brought from Constantinople to the St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery in Kiev, where they were kept until the 1930s, when they were transferred to St. Vladimir's Cathedral in the same city. A small part of St. Barbara's relics were brought to the United States by His Holiness Patriarch Filaret of The Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kyivan Patriarchate (a body outside the main communion of Orthodox Churches) in November 2012. They are permanently on display for veneration at St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Bloomingdale, Illinois.

Her feast day for Roman Catholics,[5] Orthodox, and Anglicans is December 4. More on St. Barbara can be found at this Wikipedia link.

From Ernie Newbold - 1967-68 and was part of the 131 Divisional Locating Battery of the Royal Australian Artillery at Nui Dat. This article was part of the November 2018 Eyes & Ears Newsletter and is reproduced here courtesy of Ernie and the Eyes & Ears Editor Paul Dickson.

(Courtesy of Ernie Newbold -131 Divisional Locating Battery of the Royal Australian Artillery)


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