St. Barbara and the Chumash Indians

The Chumash Indians believed the stars in the Milky Way were human souls on their way to a heavenly paradise in the western sky. In this paradise the souls would be cleansed, and then return to the womb of a woman in their tribe. The brightest stars in the sky were the gods.

St. Barbara was the daughter of a rich man who shut her in a tower to protect her from the outside world. Somehow she became converted to Christianity, and escaped through a crack in the tower her prayers had created. Her father captured her and had her tortured, but she miraculously didn’t die so he cut her head off. He was then struck by lightning and died.

The daughter became one of those many martyred saints, and on the eve of her feast day the explorer Sebastian Vizcaino found himself saved from a violent storm, so he named the Santa Barbara Mission in honor of her.

The Santa Barbara Mission was established so that the indigenous Chumash Indians would believe in all those tortured and beheaded saints instead of in the stars.

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