The Greek Orthodox community in Turkey held a mass in the northwestern town of Kocaeli Monday to mark Saint Barbara Feast Day dedicated to this saint born in Nicomedia, present-day Kocaeli.
Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I led the mass near the ancient city walls where a tower associated with Saint Barbara is located. A large crowd of the faithful and Greece's Consul-General in Istanbul Evangelos Sekeris attended the mass. Addressing the congregation after the mass, the Patriarch said he was pleased to be in Kocaeli where Saint Barbara died for her Christian faith and thanked Turkish officials for allowing them to hold a mass there. "This is a visit and commemoration we did to understand the lives of saints better. We pray to God to give us power to fight the devil and we thank God for His blessings by remembering the ordeal the saints have gone through," he said.
Saint Barbara, believed to have been born in Nicomedia in 273 AD, is among the early woman saints of Christianity. Imprisoned in a tower by her pagan father to "protect" her from suitors, her story inspired the famous tale of Rapunzel. Some accounts say she converted to Christianity after spending her days in the tower pondering creation. After she was freed from the tower by her father, she spent her days learning more about Christianity. Upon learning of her conversion, Barbara's father captured and tortured her before finally beheading her when she refused to renounce her faith.