Barbara celebration – tradition in the tunnel
Saint Barbara is the patron saint of miners. The celebration of Barbara takes place on 4 December, her name day, at underground mines all across the world. It is, of course, also celebrated at the Marti Group’s tunnel construction sites.
It is a chilly winter morning on December 4, 2022. A peaceful Sunday atmosphere hangs over the installation site of ARGE Marti RBS Lot 1.3 on Laupenstrasse in Bern. The construction site elevator moves us down the shaft to an adit, located 12 meters below the existing rail tracks of Bern station. After a short walk, the tunnel starts expanding. This is where the two station caverns for the new RBS station are being constructed. Today there is a reverent silence where machines are ordinarily rumbling. The daily dust has settled. The miners are now clad in casual attire instead of their professional orange uniforms. The mood is festive. After all, today is St. Barbara’s name day, the patron saint of miners. Underground miners traditionally offer their thanks on this day with a church service for a mining year that ended with as few accidents as possible. And pray for continued protection over the coming year. Afterwards, they finish this commemorative day with a good-natured communal meal.
We thank our patron saint for her faithful watch. She protects us from unknown and unexpected dangers during our daily work in the caverns.
THE STORY OF ST. BARBARA
Numerous stories and legends recount the life of St. Barbara. By most accounts, she lived in Nicodemia, now Izmir, Turkey, in the third century. Dioskuros, her strict and jealous father, kept her imprisoned in a tower, shielding her from the outside world. While Dioskuros was away traveling, Barbara found Christianity and commissioned a third window to be installed in her tower, as a symbol of the Trinity. Her father learned about her conversion and became furious. As she tried to flee from his wrath, a crack in the rock opened up for Barbara and gave her shelter. However, a shepherd boy betrayed her hiding place and she was captured. Her father then viciously executed her. Immediately afterwards, he was struck by lightning and burned to death.
History only attests to the giving of thanks to St. Barbara as a martyr. She has been the patron saint of miners for centuries, providing them with protection and blessings. By hiding in the crevice of the mountain, she is inextricably linked with the world of mining. Even in modern times, she is therefore still omnipresent in tunnel construction. A statue of the patron saint is blessed when each underground construction is opened. Afterwards, the statue watches over them in a specially prepared niche to make sure that everyone comes out of the mountain healthy and in one piece.