Santa Barbara: Patron Saint of Miners and Mathematicians

Bas-relief of Saint Barbara, Venice
Santa Barbara is the patron saint of miners, mathematicians, firemen, architects, artillerymen, armourers and prisoners (phew!) and December 5th is her feast-day. 

Although Venice once boasted more than 160 churches, none was dedicated to Santa Barbara, which is, perhaps, a little odd, given that la serenissima has been home to the saint's relics for more than a thousand years. 

The saint's relics were translated (the correct technical term) from Constantinople to Venice in 1003. They were first placed in the Basilica San Marco, but were soon translated to the church of Saint John the Evangelist on the island of Torcello. 

At the beginning of the eighteenth century the church was suppressed (and later demolished) and the relics were translated to San Martino on the neighbouring island of Burano, where they remain to this day. 
Polyptych of Santa Barbara by Palma Vecchio, Santa Maria Formosa, Venice
Santa Barbara was the patron of the Scuola dei Bombardieri (Gunners), which commissioned the beautiful altarpiece in the church of Santa Maria Formosa. The marble altarpiece is carved with images of the scuola's tools of trade.  


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