Shining in Shilo

The Portraits of Honour had the privilege of celebrating St. Barbara – Patron saint of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery at CFB/ASU Shilo, Manitoba. St. Barbara’s Day is celebrated every December 4th.

According to legend she was the daughter of a wealthy man named Disocorus who feared a man would ask for her hand in marriage. In a fit of jealousy he locked her away in a tower. Before leaving on a journey he built a bath house.

During St. Barbara’s imprisonment she had heard about Chrsitian teachings and spent time contemplating them. From her window she marveled at the world and decided that everything was part of God’s master plan. She declared the idols worshipped by her parents were false. She directed the builders to redesign the bath house by installing a third window to symbolize the Holy Trinity and a cross in the marble of the bath. Upon her father’s return he was so enraged with the religious significance of the changes drew his sword to kill his daughter.

St. Barbara fell to her knees in prayer and was miraculously transported to a mountain where she was discovered by a shepherd who betrayed her to Dioscorus. After being dragged before the prefect of the province he decreed she be tortured and beheaded. Dioscorus carried out the death sentence and was then struck by lightning and consumed utterly.

Saint Barbara died about the year 300 A.D. The place of her martyrdom is variously given as Heliopolis in Egypt and Nicomedia in Asia Minor. The legend of the lightning bolt striking down her persecutor caused her to be regarded as the patron saint in time of danger from thunderstorms and sudden death.

When gunpowder appeared, St. Barbara was invoked for aid against explosions, since early artillery pieces blew up instead of firing. She is also heralded as the patroness of the engineers, armourers, gunsmiths and miners.

CFB Shilo has been the site of military activity in the region dating back to 1910. The base has seen its share of soldiers give the ultimate sacrifice in many world conflicts. Twenty such brave souls who trained here died in Afghanistan. The local Kinsmen and Kinettes immortalized that service by displaying wooden plaques with Canadian flags at the front of the stage area as a token of their appreciation.

During the public viewing hours of the mural depicting the 157 of 158 fallen comrades in Afghanistan, two sentinels proudly volunteered to guard each end of the trailer. This ceremony is performed every 15 minutes. The many visitors to the indoor venue stop and watch this age old tradition of standing in complete motionless position in awe.

The motto at CFB Shilo is AD OMNIA PARATUS – Ready for Anything. That symbolizes our entire armed forces. When the call for help is from either here at home or abroad our dedicated military personnel take up the cause and prepare for the unexpected. They are on call 24-7, 365 days of the year. We should be proud we have the finest and best trained military force the world has to offer. They are ready for anything. Any time. Any place.

Happy St. Barbara’s Day CFB Shilo from everyone at Portraits of Honour.