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Holy War: St Barbara’s relic turns into a major issue for Greek government, the Church and Hospital doctors

It all started with a glorious welcome ceremony under the presence of high ranking cleric, government ministers and military officers. Carefully put in a silver casket, the remains of Saint Barbara arrived in Athens Airport on Sunday afternoon and from there they were escorted to Aegaleo suburb of Western Athens by government officials, high-ranking clerics and officers of the Greek Armed Forces.

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The casket was respectfully placed in the Church of Saint Barbara and hundreds of believers started to flock to the church forming long queues and waiting up to 5 hours in order to come close, kiss the casket, make the sign of cross and request for a miracle by the early Christian saint and martyr.

Video: welcome ceremony

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The welcome ceremony in the same tradition as the one for the Holy Light at Easter with honors for a state leader was met with some whispered criticism. But soon the issue of Saint Barbara’s relics became a huge political, religious and medical issue, when it was decided that the remains will be taken to Agios Savvas Hospital for cancer patients upcoming Friday, where they will stay for two hours so that patients can pay their respect. Minister of Health, Panagiotis Kouroumplis had declared to be present at the ceremony.

Image result for αγια βαρβαρα λειψανο



Sharp criticism by SYRIZA

The initially whispered criticism became loud among the SYRIZA officials with MP Nikos Fillis openly speaking of “idolatry” and “trading in relics” and saying that it would be a mistake to give the signal that the medical science can be replaced.” Νikos Fillis stressed that it was high time for separation between the state and the church. The left and most likely atheist politician ironically commented for the relics and the Holy Light welcome ceremonies with “honors of a state leader.”

“Two state leaders visited Greece under SYRIZA government and these are the Holy Light and and Saint Barbara’s relics,Nikos Fillis said.

Fillis’ statements triggered storm reactions among church officials, conservative politicians and media and the faithful Greeks. They had been observing the “atheists socialists” of SYRIZA with suspicion anyway, despite the approach to the Greek Orthodox Church and Archbishop Ieronymos as initiated by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, a declared “atheist” himself.


Thursday morning, Archbishop Ieronymos visited the Agia Varvara Church to pay his respect to the relic. Asked to comment on Fillis’ separation between the state and the church, the leader of the Greek Church said “let’s do not spoil the atmosphere. This is an issue in need of a lot of discussion. Those who say such things will regret it.”

Meanwhile  Heath Minister Kouroumplis (former PASOK) reckoned that on the day St Barbara’s relics will be in the hospital, he will be in Geneva to attend a meeting of the World Health Organization.

The issue triggered also disagreement between the coalition government partners with nationalist Independent Greeks to have sent a minister (Terence Quick) to escort the relics.

Hospital Doctors

Criticism came also from hospital doctors who expressed their reservation against the plan that Saint Barbara’s relics will be taken to Agios Savvas to the hospital.

Dimitris Varnabas from the Greek Hospital Doctors Association spoke of “idolatry”. Matina Pagoni from the Attica Hospital Doctors Association wondered why the relics would go only to this specific hospital and not to the two other sin Athens where cancer patients are been treated, and why the relics would have to be in the hospital during working hours.

“Everyone has a right to faith. Saint Barbara can help believers no matter where her relic is,Pagoni said.

The relic will remain in Athens until May 24th and will return to Italy on board of a ship of the Greek Navy. The relic of Saint Barbara arrived from Venice, Italy where they have been kept since 1003. Saint Barbara is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, continues to be a popular saint in modern times, perhaps best known as the patron saint of armourers, artillerymen, military engineers, miners and others who work with explosives because of her old legend’s association with lightning.


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  1. St Barbara must be worth a bit of money, is it wise for her to be dragged around Greece in this fashion /?
    Lourdes is a small town lying in the foothills of the Pyrenees, the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to Bernadetta Soubirous a total of 18 occasions. Today Lourdes has a population of 15.000 but every season some 5.000.000 pilgrims & tourists visit.
    Our Lady of Fatima – the Lady of the Rosary as she called herself, appeared to 3 children & spoke of secrets, prophecy & eschatology to them, prior to the visions of The Holy Mothers an angel appeared to the children on 3 occasions to teach them to pray.
    The Virgin Mary had promised a miracle, in July 1917 The Miracle of The Sun stunned many observers.
    I am Roman Catholic, I do not shove my beliefs upon atheists nor do I ridicule them, I would like that I be given the same discression.
    Of course we have the likes of Richard Dawkins who cannot resist but to ridicule, scorn, intimidate, indeed with gleeful & acute arrocange. But then many say that poor old Richard is pocessed by demons & give him a wide berth.

  2. costa sakellariou

    what? she is the goddess of lighting?

    oh, she is ‘associated’ with lightning…

    its time for the church to pay its fair share – and spare us the mumbo jumbo…

  3. Giaourti Giaourtaki

    Wow, is that Putin on high heels, the pilot in the middle of the picture? What comes next, will he fly to London and pick up the marbles?