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Church of St. Barbara

The Church of St. Barbara





The Church of St. Barbara is one of the oldest and the most remarkable churches in Cairo. It is situated in the eastern part of the Babylon fort. It dates back to the 5th century and was rebuilt around the 11th century. It is named after St. Barbara, who was born at the beginning of the 3rd century in Nicomedia. She converted to Christianity and refused to marry any of the aristocratic young men in Alexandria, devoting herself to serving Jesus Christ and God. Her father was a non-believing pagan who continually tortured her, and then he complained about her to the Roman governor Marcianus, who in turn tortured her even more. However, Barbara resisted and refused to leave Christianity. Finally, she was killed and martyred, together with her companion, Juliana.


The Layout Of The Church Of St. Barbara


The Church takes a shape of a Roman Basilica, comprised of an entrance, a narthex, a nave, two aisles and three sanctuaries that are located in the east wing of the church. The middle Sanctuary is the main one, dedicated to St. Barbara. After entering, from the narthex, there are 5 marble columns with palm leaf capitals which separate the nave from the 2 aisles. In front of the middle Sanctuary, there is a semi-circular choir, which consists of 7 steps. From the church's southern sanctuary, visitors can enter through a doorway to a rectangular hall, which contains an additional chapel dedicated to St. Barbara. This is a recent modification to the church. From the northern sanctuary, there is a doorway that leads to the small church, which was consecrated to St. Cyrus and St. John.


This small church has 3 sanctuaries. The middle one is dedicated to St. Cyrus and John, the right one is dedicated to St. George while the third one is used today for baptisms. The most precious item found inside this church is a sycamore door that dates back to the 5th Century. The church also has many icons, and the most remarkable one dates back to about the 13th Century. The main icons depict Christ surrounded by Angels. There are other icons on the southern aisle of the church, representing the Virgin Mary and Jesus when he was a child, Jesus entering Jerusalem and the baptism of Christ by John the Baptist.

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