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Barbara, Patron Saint of Miners

By December 3, 2011

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Saint Barbara statue, Wieliczka Salt Mine

December 4 is a very special day for the mining industry. This is the feast day of Barbara, Patron Saint for Miners and Blasters, and globally for all the professions that relate to fire (firemen, fireworks specialists, etc.)

From her tragic story, which appeared later to be a legend, "the belief became widespread that Barbara could control lightning and other manifestations of flame and fire. (...) Miners later developed the use of gunpowder for disintegrating rock, involving manifestations similar to thunder claps and lightning flashes. This led to their need for special protection against accidents from the use of explosives (...)" (Source: The Legend of Saint Barbara, Patron Saint of Mines in Infomine.com)

Saint Barbara remains a vivid part of mining traditions and heritage. In Europe, a statue of Saint Barbara always stands at the entrance of a tunnel construction site. A lot of mining countries still honor Saint Barbara, from Latin America to Asia. Many extraction sites have been named after Saint Barbara (Compania Minera Santa Barbara S.A. in Chile, Complejo Minero Santa Bárbara in Mexico, Barbara Experimental Coal Mine in Poland, St Barbara's Southern Cross in Australia, etc.), thereby keeping alive the reputation of Saint Barbara as our patron saint.

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