St Barbara healing oil
The St Barbara healing oil is dedicated to the 3rd century virgin and martyr. She is known as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. Barbara continues to be a popular saint in modern times. She is the patron saint of armourers, artillerymen, military engineers and miners. Barbara is associated with those who work with explosives because of her association with lightning. She is also patron of mathematicians.
Her Known History and Early Life
Barbara was a maiden of great beauty whose father locked her in a tower to remove her from many ardent suitors who were not to his liking. He also wanted keep her from indulging in a habit of constantly helping the poor.
Barbara’s father was devoted to the Greco-Roman religious system. As such, he especially wanted keep her from talking to any followers of a new religion that he saw as dangerous. He was worried that she might convert. The new religion, Christianity, was beginning to nibble at the margins of Roman society. At that time, it had been mainly taken up by the poor and downtrodden. Barbara’s father was a rich merchant who had contempt for this scruffy movement. Beyond his personal prejudice was the political reality that any association with the outlawed religion would hurt his grain business.
Barbara’s time in the tower
Barbara spent years in the tower. She got her food and laundry by way of a basket on a rope. Her father began bringing suitors of his choosing but by then Barbara had lost all interest in marriage. One day, a stranger put a book in the basket from which Barbara learned about the new religion.
Barbara so longed to know more about Christianity that she grew ill. Her father sent for a doctor and when the healer arrived, the father in his agitation, did not ask what kind of doctor this was. He was, in fact, a priest a doctor of the soul. Barbara asked the priest many questions and received baptism. Shortly thereafter, the father had to go away from their home on a journey. Barbara asked the men who worked on the estate to make a third window in her tower. As she was their employer’s daughter, they complied. When the father returned and asked the meaning of the third window, Barbara told him that she had converted to Christianity and wanted to have three windows to be reminded of the three names for God.
St Barbara’s Death
The father told her she must renounce her new faith or die. When she refused, he betrayed her to the Roman authorities who tortured her but were unable to get her to give up her beliefs. They even tried to shame her by parading her through town naked. The angels sent a convenient fog that completely hid her. Eventually, they ordered her father to kill her. He tried to end her life by a variety of horrific means, but she slipped to safety again and again becoming more radiant and holy each time she affirmed her faith. Finally, he grabbed her beautiful long hair and beheaded her.
Tradition of oils
The tradition of anointing with sacred oil is very old indeed. It is used in sacraments and also as a devotional practice. Moreover, it is a sacramental. The sick person applies the oil and blesses themselves. As they do so, they are asked to pray to whomever the oil is dedicated to. The Irish blessings oils do not have miraculous power. It is God who has the power to heal. Prayer and a gesture of faith, like applying the oil, are important ways for us to express our faith in God’s power. By doing so we place our trust in God.