|Saint Barbara is a Greek virgin martyr.
She was imprisoned by her father in a high tower. In this forced solitude Saint Barbara converted to Christianity. She concocted a plan to receive instruction in her new religion and to be baptized in secret by a Christian priest. Her father, enraged at her conversion, beheaded her.
Saint Barbara’s appearance in the window is almost precisely as described by Mrs. Jameson: “St. Barbara bears the sword and palm in common with other martyrs.” The tower, her “peculiar, almost invariable attribute” is reworked as the diadem of “a martyr.” She also bears “the book … in allusion to her studious life” and “carries the sacramental cup and wafer” the only female saint to do so, for it was believed that those who devoted themselves to her should not die… without having first received the holy sacraments.” She is clad “almost always in red drapery.” The expression on her face conveys “thoughtfulness, dignity, and power.” The predella contains a palm indicating her martyrdom.