Oil Dedicated to St Barbara Zagariete
The St Barbara Zagariete is dedicated to the saint from Žagarė, Lithuania. According to oral history, Barbara distinguished herself by her Christian virtues. She died young under obscure circumstances. Her remains were incorruptible. This inspired a strong following among local people.
Local people tell stories about her care for the sick and generosity for beggars. Also, she would intercede on behalf of serfs and walk to the church on her knees. She wanted to become a nun, and even joined a Franciscan monastery in Riga. However, her non-believer father would not allow it. She jumped out of the second floor of the manor to escape her father’s wrath and died of injuries
Barbara was first buried either in Žvelgaičiai or Umiastowski family crypt. In 1655, during the Second Northern War, Sweden invaded Lithuania and burned down the church. As a result, her cult grew stronger.
Tsarist authorities discouraged Catholicism and walled up the crypt in 1877. The remains were put in a glass coffin in the crypt beneath the high altar. However, in 1963, authorities of the Lithuanian SSR closed the church. They transferred the remains to an unknown location. Efforts to locate the remains were unsuccessful. When the church was returned to the congregation, a symbolic casket was placed in the same crypt.
Local people venerated Barbara as if she were a saint. It was common to circle her coffin three times on knees. Her cult merged with that of Saint Barbara. The women shared not only names but also similar life stories. Local people celebrated the feast of Barbara Žagarietė on 4 December. They sang hymns that initially meant for St. Barbara. In November 2004, the Bishop of Šiauliai, sent a request to the Holy See to begin the beatification and canonization for Žagarietė. In May 2005, the Holy See replied that there were no obstacles in initiating the case.