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A Catholic By Any Other Name...Except Rita

August 27, 2011   Hurricane Irene is currently battering NJ. The drizzle that began 7 or so hours ago upgraded to torrential downpour a few hours ago. I should probably be worried about flooding from the river down the street...and maybe the tornado warning...but I am actually feeling pretty okay. I know what you're thinking....what does a hurricane have to do with the title of this post? Not much...unless you know a little bit of my own history.

You see, I have a major confession to parents were originally going to name me Rita.
August 28, 2011    Okay, now that the hurricane has simmered down and we're all safe and unscathed...back to posting.

No offense to any Ritas out there...but I still thank God that my parents changed their minds about my name. I have done so ever since I was a kid. One of my favorite shows from early childhood was Power Rangers, so the name Rita Repulsa will always bring to mind a screechy alien witch hell-bent on destroying the world. Screeching witches aside, I just cannot imagine being called Rita. The name just doesn't fit me at all. It's too short...too lame. (Okay, I just looked it up...apparently Rita could be the shortened version of a bunch of names like Margaret. In Sanskrit it means true or maybe the name Rita does deserve some credit. Consider this as a small apology to all the people out there named Rita.)

So why is my name not Rita?
Gardens of Saint Barbara in the city of Braga, Portugal.
She's kind of a patron here too. Don't let the garden
fool you, because the city IS badass.

Well, I was a December baby. Apparently, on the day I was born, there was a massive winter storm going on. It was so massive, that my parents found themselves praying that everything would be okay and asking for Saint Barbara's intercession. As determined as they had been to name me Rita, they found themselves naming me after the patron saint of storms...Saint Barbara. Saint Barbara is the patron saint of all that is badass. Don't believe me? Just check out all the stuff under her patronage in the list below.

I copied this list from This site is a great resource for those of us with enough time on our hands to look up saints, saint biographies, and even the patron saint of each US essence it's like Wikipedia for saints. My favorite part about this site, besides its content, is that it refers to saints as "your extended family in heaven." That's a pretty accurate and sweet description of what saints are.

Saint Barbara with a BADASS SWORD!
The Badass Patronage List: Saint Barbara Edition 
against death by artillery - against explosionsagainst fire- against impenitence -against lightning -against mine collapse- against storms- Amaroni, Italy- ammunition magazines-ammunition workers-architects-armourers-artillery-artillerymen-Barbara, Italy-boatmen-bomb technicians-brass workers-brewers- builders- carpenters- Colleferro, Italy- construction workers- dying people- explosives workers- fire prevention- firefighters- fireworks- fireworks manufacturers- fortifications- foundry workers- geologists- gravediggers -gunners- hatmakers- hatters- mariners- martyrs- masons- mathematicians- military engineers- milliners- miners- Montecatini Terme, Italy- ordnance workers- Paterno, Sicily- prisoners- Rieti, Italy- safety from stormssailors- saltpetre workers- Santa Barbara, California- smelters- stone masons- stonecutters- storms- sudden death- Syria- tilers- Toa Alto, Puerto Rico- warehouses- watermen

For those unfamiliar with Saint Barbara, she was one of those earlier saints with a pretty crazy story. There are several versions to this story, each more epic than the last. I'm not sure how much of this story was true or fabricated, so I will stick to the basics. Essentially, she was born to a pagan father who locked her up in a tower because she was disobedient. Unbeknownst to her father, she became a Christian and had her tower designed so that it would have three windows (in order to honor each member of the Holy Trinity). Depending on the version of the story, either her dad got angry with her over an arranged marriage she didn't want to be part of...or he simply found out about her Christianity. In any event, he denounced her and she was tortured and killed (some versions of the story will tell you that it took quite a few attempts to kill fire, being dragged by her hair, you name it...). Her father ended up beheading her and was then struck by lightning. Based on various elements of the can see why she's patron of so many things. Some are a tad morbid. Getting beheaded and then becoming the patron saint of hatters...tad morbid. However, some are just plain badass. Obviously armourers, fortifications, explosions, and masons bring the battle of Helm's Deep to mind.... and anyone will tell you that this battle was pretty badass.

Lord of the Rings references aside, I am pretty sure that there's plenty of people who would agree that Saint Barbara is patron saint of some pretty badass people/places/things.  She is the patron saint of so many heroes...firefighters, martyrs, and bomb technicians to name a few. I really wonder how many of these people she's interceded for over the years. I imagine Saint Barbara must have been busy asking God to watch over so many people during some of our most terrible terrorist attacks. I imagine she's still pretty busy interceding for some of our men and women currently fighting abroad...those under enemy fire, mortar attacks, bomb threats, etc.

I may not be in the military or part of any of the professions under Saint Barbara's patronage, but I feel she's been looking out for me throughout the years too...along with so many other members of my extended family in heaven. She certainly must have been asking God on my behalf when I was born because I did end up making it to the hospital 25 odd years ago (patron saint against storms). She must have also interceded on my behalf, alongside Our Lady of Fatima, after I was born when the doctors told my parents to take me home because there was nothing else they could do to save my life (patron saint of the dying). I escaped death by drowning a few times, so she must have been looking out for me then as well (patron saint of mariners, watermen).

I may be a little biased here, but I think Saint Barbara is awesome and I have come to love my name as I have come to love her and everything she stands for. She's a pretty sweet role model who wasn't afraid to stand up for what was right. Not too many people today are willing to do as she did. Saint Barbara went so far as to stand up against her own father. It takes a lot of courage to stand up for what you believe in...especially if you find yourself standing up against family and friends. In those days, it took even more courage than this. You see, in her time (~3rd Century), standing up to your father could mean certain death. Fathers, under pater potestas were allowed to kill their children if the children displeased them in any way. I am a firm believer in standing up for what is right...but even I could never stand up to my father like Saint Barbara did...especially if my father was willing to kill me.

As far as names go, Barbara is a mouthful and it took me most of kindergarten to figure out that my name was not spelled "Barbarbara." Yeah, I may share the same name as Barbra Streisand (not a big fan of hers), Barbara Walters (never trusted her), Barbara Bush (...well, I suppose it could be worse)....and Hurricane Barbara  (of 1953, 1989, and 1995)...but I still can't imagine myself being anything but a Barbara. Barbara has turned out to be the perfect name for me.

On a side note, Barbara is derived from the Greek barbaros, meaning foreign or strange....the same root for the word BARBARIAN!!!!  How badass is that!?!? (Okay, this post has just used up its quota for the word "badass.") See, even more proof that the name fits.

Pax Vobiscum

Pray for those affected by Hurricane Irene.

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