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Saint Barbara


The Barbara Project is a celebration and exploration of the story of Saint Barbara, the beautiful daughter of Dioscorus, a wealthy pagan in the third century in Turkey who locked her in a tower to keep her chaste.  If this sounds familiar it’s because Saint Barbara is the inspiration for the tale of Rapunzel. 

From her tower Barbara somehow found out about a strange new cult—this was the third century—called Christianity.  She tricked her father into allowing a priest to visit her in her tower and was secretly baptized.  Then she remodeled her tower to have three windows, inspired by the Trinity and that gave her away. Her father pulled her from the tower, gave her to the authorities to be tortured. Every night she was thrown into a cell to die and in the morning she was miraculously restored to health.Then her father threatened her with beheading if she didn’t recant but she was steadfast in her new faith and so he chopped off her head.  At that very moment he was struck by lightning and then a mountain fell on him.  Barbara went to Heaven and is now the patron saint of architects, geologists, stonemasons, artillerymen and all those who are about to be struck by lightning.


The photographs of lightning in these collages are by Rob Swanson and Gary Hershorn.

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