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St. Barbara church

by Ignazio Lecca

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The St. Barbara Church, according to the text written on the marble plaque walled up at the entrance of the church, was erected in 1281 by Gallo, archbishop of Cagliari, who it is said had lived in that locality, with other companions, as a hermit monk.
Here is the text of the plaque, in accordance with the Casini and Bonfant's reading:


Chiesa di S. BarbaraThe church is rectangular shape, as probably the archbishop Gallo designed it to be built. It is still possible to notice the Romanesque architectural motifs in the wall where the entrance of the temple opened, as well as in the lateral wall. Such motifs date back to the thirteenth century. Subsequent interventions, in 1739, caused reshaping and, maybe, the erections of the basin-shaped dome that, however, according to some historians, dates back to the same period of the aisle. A portico in the front, from the seventeenth century, carry a sail-shaped bell tower. Other maintenance interventions, though useful, have partially disfigured the original arrangement of the little church. In the several plaques on the wall of the church we have a proof of the various recasting works. The characteristic motifs of the thirteen century nevertheless remain clearly recognisable.
In accordance with a document of 1355, issued by the Chancellery of King Alfonso IV The Kind and found in the archives of the Crown of Aragon, the Basilian monks asked the King of Aragon the concession of the St. Barbara Church "sita in Cabuterra insula Sardinie". According to the hypothesis of O.Schiena, the church was probably owned by the same Basilian monks in the High Middle Age.
In the eighteenth century the St. Barbara Church, formerly property of the archbishop of Cagliari, was transferred to the Minori Conventuali friars in exchange of the St. Maria Church in Uta. Tommaso Polla, friar of mythical penitence, took possession of the St. Barbara Church with other friars. He was called by the inhabitants of Capoterra cure souls in the absence of other parish priests, contracted malignant fever and died in Cagliari on September 29th 1663 in the odour of sanctity.
The St. Barbara feast is celebrated at the end of June. This saint isn't the Saint Barbara of Nicomedia but should be, according to the tradition, a Christian martyr from Cagliari, who lived for 30 years. Her mortal remains were discovered in St. Restituta sepulchre on June 23rd 1620, according to what Serafini Esquirro wrote in 1624 in "Santuario de Caller, y verdadera historia de la invencion de los cuerpos santos hallados en la dicha ciudad y su ar�obiscobado".

(Santa Barbara Virgo et Martir, quae vixit annis triginta)                      

In this way J.F. Carmona in "Alabancas de los santos de Sarde�a" in 1631 reports the text of the plaque found on the tomb of the saint.
The most complete biography of St. Barbara is given by Bonfant who, in his "Triumpho de los Santos del Renyo de Cerde�a", reports of the origins of the saint born in the city of Cagliari. She was a companion of St. Restituta, with whom she was arrested and imprisoned because they were Christian. She was sentenced to be decapitated. In order to avoid reactions of the prominent citizens she was taken to a mountain few miles distant from the town and there the sentence was carried out. The place in the mountain, since then, took the Sardinian name of Sa Scabizzada (the beheaded). Bonfant says that in that place there was a dry spring from where water started to gush when the head of the saint fell down. In memory of the prodigy the hermits who lived in the mountain erected a chapel. The body of Saint Barbara was brought back to Cagliari by the Christians to be buried in the St. Restituta cave.
In the St. Barbara hill, traditionally the place of the saint's beheading, the "Sa Scabizzada" spring is of remarkable interest, distant a few yards from the small church. Popular tradition has it that the faithful can ward off evil at this spring. In the word of E.Atzori remember with these words: "The faithful that go to the sanctuary, before drinking, put in one of the niches in the wall that protects the spring, a little cross made with with a stick that joins another, through the split created up to half of its length. Tradition says that if you drink without building the rudimentary cross, you risk stumbling and hurting yourself on the way back".

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Outlines on the Poggio dei Pini territory

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