London: Crossrail workers seek protection of Saint Barbara

Blessing ceremony at Plumpstead

Blessing ceremony at Plumpstead

Crossrail is said to be the biggest construction project in Europe employing around 14,000 workers. The 118-kilometre (73-mile) railway line will run from Maidenhead to Shenfield and Abbey Wood. A major feature is the construction of 42 km (26 miles) of new tunnels. Seven massive boring machines are slowly moving 50 metres underneath London's streets, in what has also been described as "the largest archaeological site in Britain." Drilling has already unearthed skeletons in an ancient plague pit, a Roman road and a Middle Stone Age 'tool-making factory'.

There are plenty of security features in place, but for additional insurance, the workers said they would not go in the tunnels without Saint Barbara. On 4 December 2012, 38 statues of St Barbara were blessed and installed at the tunnel entrances. One of the priests who took part in the ceremony was Fr Alexander Sherbrooke from St Patrick's, Soho Square, whose church is next door to one of the Crossrail construction sites at Tottenham Court Road.

Several hundred contractors and senior management attended the St Barbara's Day ceremony at the Thames Tunnel (pictured) which will link Plumstead and North Woolwich when completed. The site was so large, that sound engineers put in place an amplification system for the ceremony.

Known in the Eastern Orthodox Church as the Great Martyr, and one of the 14 Holy Helpers, Barbara was an early Christian saint and martyr. Accounts place her in the 3rd century in Nicomedia, present-site Turkey or in Heliopolis in Egypt. She is usually depicted carrying a small tower. Because there is so little evidence of her existance, she was removed from the liturgical calendar of the Roman Rite in 1969 in Pope Paul VI's motu proprio Mysterii Paschalis. Despite this, Barbara continues to be a popular saint today.

Source: Crossrail/ICN

Tags: Crossrail, Saint Barbara

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