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Monday, August 31, 2009

St. BARBARA'S RELICS IN SANTA BARBARA

Relics and mosaic of the martyr Saint Barbara - St. Barbara's Orthodox Church in Santa Barbara, California. Photo by Gerald Fecht for the Archives of The Museum of the San Fernando Valley August 2009. (click on images to enlarge)
The relics of St. Barbara are kept in the enameled jewel box at the base of her mosaic icon.

Mosaic icon of the Virgin Mary and Jesus in the sanctuary of St. Barbara's Orthodox Church in Santa Barbara, California. Photo by Gerald Fecht for the Archives of The Museum of the San Fernando Valley August 2009.
An angel, similar to the one at the left of Jesus and His Mother, graces the right side of the mosaic.

Jesus Christ the Pancreator - detail from the interior dome of St. Barbara's Orthodox Church in Santa Barbara, California. Photo by Gerald Fecht for the Archives of The Museum of the San Fernando Valley August 2009.
The image of Jesus as the Pancreator is meant to convey His Divine authority and power. At Saint Barbara's Jesus is surrounded by smaller icons of the Apostles, Prophets and Saints on a white background. My choice here was to emphasize the mosaic of Jesus with a black border.

Silver encrusted icon of the martyr Saint Barbara at the entrance of St. Barbara's Orthodox Church in Santa Barbara, California. Photo by Gerald Fecht for the Archives of The Museum of the San Fernando Valley August 2009.
It is customary for Orthodox faithful to kiss the dedication icons at the entrance of their churches. Here, the image of Saint Barbara is depicted in her heavenly glory, surrounded by silver. Saint Barbara was killed by her own family members for her commitment to the Christian religion. The City of Santa Barbara was dedicated to her by Roman Catholic missionaries of the Order of Friars Minor (the Franciscans). In Catholic iconography she is depicted with a tower (like the rook in a chess set) and cannons. She was martyred by being hurled from a tower, and is the patron saint of cannon makers.

When I taught Humanities at Moorpark College, I would show my students a series of images (such as these icons and mosaics from St. Barbara's Greek Orthodox Church in Santa Barbara) and get them to talk about far off places they might like to visit. When I revealed that what they had seen was within an hour's drive of Thousand Oaks, many were amazed.
When it gets really hot in Tarzana, our adventure group arranges to explore Southern California's coastal communities. This week we drove to Santa Barbara. At the suggestion of Jerry McAlevey we included a stop at the absolutely beautiful church of Saint Barbara the Martyr.
In my opinion, these images are every bit as beautiful as those in far off Europe. What do you think?
Jerry Fecht

2 comments:

mrpostcard@charter.net said...

Yes, that's why we live here. We have everything.

Mr. Alan Phipps, O.P. said...

"Jesus Christ the Pancreator"

Just a quibble: It's actually "Pantocrator":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ_Pantocrator