Bishop Michael Gielen has blessed a statue of St Barbara – the patron saint of miners – that has been placed near the entrance of a new phase of the Auckland City Rail Link project.
An August 21 note on the City Rail Link facebook page stated that Bishop Gielen was invited to bless a St Barbara statue that would be 20 metres underground. This was in preparation for the start of mining at the Karangahape Station phase of the project.
Bishop Gielen, who is Auckland auxiliary bishop, also blessed a new roadheader machine, and the face of the shaft that will be excavated first.
The post noted that, around the world, statues of St Barbara are placed at the entrance to mines, for miners to touch on their journeys underground.
The post concluded with thanks extended to “Bishop Michael and the Catholic Diocese of Auckland for helping with this blessing during the tight level 3 restrictions”.
In his facebook post, Bishop Gielen stated: “May God bless and protect all those involved in this project.”
Last year, a statue of St Barbara gifted by Pike River Re-Entry Minister Andrew Little was placed near the portal of the Pike River mine, with the approval of families of those who lost their lives there.
The icon is acknowledged by many miners, even by non-religious ones, at the start of shifts at mines. She is seen as a symbol of good fortune, without necessarily any religious connotations.
St Barbara was a legendary martyr of the early Church, who died circa 200AD. Her feast day is December 4. The tradition involving mining can be traced back to the 16th century, when miners and military engineers working with explosives sought the saint’s intercession for their protection.