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History of the Holy Shrine

Historical Information
on the Sacred Relic of Saint Barbara


Video from the reception of the Saint's Holy Relics

Historical information on the sacred relic of Saint Barbara

The sacred remains of Saint Barbara were brought to Venice during the reign of the Doge Pietro II Orseolo (991 -1009). They were brought to Venice by Maria Argyropoula - considered by John the Deacon and Andrea Dandolo to be the daughter (or perhaps even the very sister) of the emperors Basil II and Constantine VIII - but, as surmised from the surname, was probably one of the future emperor Romanus III's sisters, who had been married to the Doge's son, John. Their marriage was officiated in the "imperial chapel" in Constantinople by the Patriarch, and the emperors themselves participated in the ceremony as "best men", carrying the bridal coronets.

John, who was accompanied by his brother Otto, received the title of "Patrician", while his spouse managed to secure from the monarch the privilege of taking with her the holy remains of the Great Martyr Barbara. Back in Venice, they were placed in the "chapel of the duke" ( i.e., Saint Mark's ).

John Orseolo's stay in the Bosporus was an extensive one, and it was there, that the only child was born to the royal couple, between the years 1002 and 1004.

John died of the plague in 1007. Later, in 1009, during the reign of the Doge Otto Orseolo, two more of Pietro Orseolo's children - Orso, Bishop of Torcello and Felicita, Mother Superior of the convent of Saint John the Evangelist in Torcello - managed to transfer the holy remains of the Great Martyr to the chapel of that same convent , where it continued to be witnessed in the 18 th century, by Corner.

During the times of Napoleonic destruction, the holy remains were translated to the temple of Saint Martin on the island of Murano, where they continue to be guarded, to this day.

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