Friday, 17 December 2010

Glendoe Hydro Power Plant - 5

Much of Friday 3 December was spent reading up about St Barbara and attempting to gain some devotion for the saint, so that I would be able to lead the celebration of her Feast Day with due honour.

Barbara was the beautiful daughter of a rich and powerful pagan named Dioscuros. She grew up in Nikomedia (in modern Turkey). To keep her a virgin, her father locked her in a tower when he was away, a tower with only two windows. Upon his return from one journey, he found three windows in the tower instead of two. When he asked Barbara about this, she confessed that she'd become a Christian after being baptized by a priest disguised as a physician, and that she'd asked that a third window be made as a symbol of the Holy Trinity.

She was then denounced by her father, who was ordered by the local authorities to put her to death. She escaped from her tower, but her father caught and killed her. When he dealt the death blow, he was immediately struck by lightning. She is depicted in art holding a small tower or standing near a tower or near a canon, and holding a chalice and/or the palm of martyrdom.

During her time in the tower, she kept a branch from a cherry tree which she watered with water from her cup. On the day of she was killed, the cherry branch she'd kept blossomed. From this comes "Barbarazweig," the custom of bringing branches into the house on December 4 to hopefully bloom on Christmas Day. Of course, the branches might not bloom at all, but if the temperature outside has been around 32 to 40 degrees fahrenheit for six weeks, they most likely will. Apple, chestnut, pear, peach, forsythia, plum, lilac and jasmine branches will work, also, but cherry is the tradition.

St. Barbara is the patroness of artillerymen, fireworks manufacturers, firemen, stone masons, against sudden death, against fires, and against storms (especially lightning storms). The Feast of St. Barbara is not celebrated liturgically in the 1969 Calendar, but you will see it celebrated liturgically if your priest uses an older Missal (as is the case with the Transalpine Redemptorists who live on Papa Stronsay - Orkney Islands). Nonetheless, 4 December is still her "Feast Day" which may be celebrated informally.

The noble stem of Jesse
Hath flow'red at this tide:
Rejoice, good christian people,
Rejoice ye far and wide:
In Mary see the stem;
And who the flow'r by Jesus,
The Babe of Bethlehem?

This flower the Prophet Essay
Foresaw and did foretell,
Born of the Virgin-Mother;
And man should love her well.
Yet, stem, to flower give place,
For from the same both angels
And man derive solace.

He is the modest field-flower
That in our vale is seen:
or like the snow-white lily
Amid the briers keen:
No rose so sweet and fair;
No perfume aromatic
Can with His Name compare.

This flower with fragrant odour
Doth woo the passer-by,
And fill his very being
With love right wondrously;
Sweet Flower, for thee I sigh;
Thy grace my fainting spirit
Alone can satisfy.

No comments: