The story of St. Barbara
It is no mere coincidence that the workers in the “mercury fulminate production
” and “primers
” departments of Fiocchi have, from “the beginning” chosen St. Barbara as their patron saint to protect them in the carrying out of their delicate tasks
. According to legend, St. Barbara was decapitated by her father Dioscorus, who was killed by a stroke of lightning immediately after killing his daughter. Due to this eventi she is invoked for sudden death by fire.
St. Barbara was born in Nicomedia (now Izmit or Kocaeli in Turkey) in 273 A.D. Although she applied herself to study, work and prayer, she was considered a “barbarian” girl, therefore not Roman, and her name is derived from this.
From 286 to 287 Barbara moved to the country villa of Scandriglia (in the Rieti area) as her father, a pagan fanatic, had been repaid by the Emperor Maximian with vast, valuable properties in Sabina. Dioscoros discovered his daughter’s Christian vocation from the third window she had added to the wall of his palace during one of his frequent periods of absence. It was a unmistakable sign that his daughter had embraced the Christian religion, and so had to be punished.
The third window was in fact the symbol of the Trinity, just as the cross-shaped bath that she had built, where it is said that St. John the Baptist appeared to her during his baptism ceremony.
The father decided to report his daughter to the Roman magistrate, who in those times of persecution condemned her to decapitation after two days of atrocious tortures, ordering that the sentence be carried out by her father. The torture began with flagellation with rods, which according to legend turned into peacock feathers, which is why in her iconography the saint is often portrayed holding long feathers. She was then tortured with flames, had her breasts cut off and was then decapitated. It happened on the 4th of December of the year 306
. According to legend, Dioscoros went ahead with the execution, but immediately afterwards was killed by a stroke of lightning which was interpreted as divine punishment for his act.
She is invoked for sudden death by fire, therefore explosives and the places in which they are kept are often called santabarbara (powder magazines) in her honour. She is the patron saint of miners, those in charge of preparing and keeping explosives, and more generally anyone who is at the risk of dying a sudden, violent death. Much invoked by the army, she is also the patron saint of the Italian Navy, the fire service and the Artillery and the Corps of Engineers.
In people’s worship it is the custom to address St. Barbara by reciting the following prayer: "Blessed Saint Barbara, free us from thunder and bolts of lightning
". On the first Saturday of December every year, Fiocchi male and female workers alike renew their devout thanks for her protection at the Fiocchi church. The Saint is thanked there for the protection she has given, in the presence of the city’s highest authorities.