Behind the Name: Unraveling the Meaning of Barbara in Polish Language

The name Barbara in Poland is a female name with Greek origins, which spread through Latin. It comes from the adjective „barbaros”, meaning „anyone who is not Greek” or, in other words, a „barbarian”. In its feminine form, the Latin equivalent is „barbara”, which signifies a foreigner or barbarian. In Poland, the name Barbara first appeared in historical sources around the 14th century.

Barbara – Variations Across Languages

  • Czech – Barbora
  • Esperanto – Barbara
  • Spanish – Bárbara
  • Slovak – Barbora
  • Swedish – Barbara
  • Italian – Barbara

The Intriguing History of the Name

Saint Barbara gained immense popularity, as she was believed to offer protection in case of sudden death (similarly to St. Nicholas). According to an ancient legend, St. Barbara was an incredibly gifted girl who discovered the truths of the Christian faith on her own, including through observations of the planets (making her a potential patron saint of astronomers and astrologers).

She is said to have died a martyr’s death at her birth father’s hands, who was instantly struck by lightning! In memory of this divine retribution, people who deal with explosions and loud noises, such as stone workers, miners, metallurgists, artillerymen, sailors, and gunpowder manufacturers, adopted Barbara as their patroness. These individuals also faced the risk of sudden death.

Interestingly, the Church has recently removed St. Barbara from the list of historical saints, meaning those who undoubtedly existed. The name Barbara, however, continues to be favored by Poles.

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Renowned authors like Henryk Sienkiewicz, Maria Dabrowska, and Czeslaw Milosz named the heroines of their famous novels Barbara.

In fact, the name Barbara is the only one mentioned in Poland’s national anthem: „said his father to his Basia”.

It is worth noting that the Polish Mother could very well have been named Barbara.

The Essence of Barbara

Barbaras are deeply connected to nature and its call. City life and high-society gatherings don’t suit them for long. Instead, they’re drawn to wandering through fields, forests, mists, and experiencing the touch of earth beneath their bare feet. They easily adapt to rural environments and places with a familiar simplicity. Barbaras have a unique bond with their loved ones.

They give them freedom when times are good, but in difficult situations, they’re filled with care and responsibility. When danger arises, they’re ready to fight fiercely like lionesses. Family instincts and solidarity are strong within them.

The Zodiac Connection for Barbara

As I can tell, the name Barbara resonates most closely with the Pisces zodiac sign. Pisces-born Barbaras are often inspired and follow their own paths, while also easily activating their Mars energies. Water element signs like Scorpio and Cancer also find harmony with this name. Aries and Taurus carry the name gracefully due to their close ties with nature.

Aquarius-born Barbaras will try to live by their own principles, while those born under Leo (and Sagittarius) may display a tendency for exaggerated gestures and masculine sports. Capricorn Barbaras might be overly fond of rural and primitive life. Geminis, Libras, and Virgos, despite their name, may long for civilization.

Family and Love Life

Barbaras can be whimsical, much like a child exploring the world. They crave warmth and care, like an exotic flower. They need luxury and a wealthy partner to indulge in blissful idleness. With their charm and allure, they can captivate the hearts of many admirers.

Barbaras are typically flirtatious and seek excitement, change, and adventure. They need a strong, firm partner who can control their whims and establish a sense of stability. When provided with such a partner, Barbara will be a model mother and wife, as well as a loyal and devoted friend to her spouse.

St. Barbara – Protector of the Brave

St. Barbara has long been considered the patron saint of people working in dangerous professions, such as

  • miners
  • steelworkers
  • sailors
  • masons
  • soldiers
  • guards and others.
St. Barbara – Protector of the Brave

It wasn’t until the 19th century that she officially became their patron saint. Today, you can find images and statues of St. Barbara in every mine.

Chronicles and legends abound with stories of individuals saved by this holy martyr. She is said to have protected people from fire and lightning strikes, shown lost souls the way, and saved those caught in mine explosions.

St. Barbara is often depicted in paintings or sculptures holding a sword, tower, chalice or monstrance, palm tree, and even peacock feathers.

Patroness of More Than Just Miners

St. Barbara, a martyr, is not only the patron saint of miners, but also of steelworkers, artillerymen, firefighters, architects, blacksmiths, sailors, soldiers, stonemasons, prisoners, and those seeking a good death. During World War II, she was even considered the patron saint of the Polish underground.

Many legends surround the figure of St. Barbara. She was born in a pagan family in Heliopolis around the 3rd century. When her father discovered her conversion to Christianity, he tried to force her to renounce her faith. However, she remained steadfast, leading to her imprisonment in a tower and ultimately her beheading by a sword. According to legend, an angel brought her Holy Communion just before her death.

Click Play Button To Listen To The Story About Saint Barbara

In iconography, St. Barbara is portrayed wearing a long tunic and cloak, often with a crown on her head and sometimes a cap. In her hand, she holds a chalice and a host, symbolizing the Eucharist. Occasionally, she is shown with the tower in which she was imprisoned.

Miners chose St. Barbara as their patron saint because of a legend that tells of her escape from her father (or prison) when a rock split open, allowing her to squeeze through the gap.

Famous Barbaras in Poland

There have been numerous notable Barbaras in Poland’s history, spanning various fields such as literature, politics, and entertainment. Some of the most famous Barbaras in Poland’s history include:

  1. Barbara Radziwiłł (1520-1551): The wife of Polish King Sigismund II Augustus, she was the Queen of Poland and Grand Duchess of Lithuania. Her beauty and charm made her a controversial figure, and her early death contributed to her legendary status.
  2. Barbara Skarga (1920-2009): A renowned Polish philosopher, essayist, and professor who made significant contributions to the fields of ethics and the history of philosophy.
  3. Barbara Bursztynowicz (b. 1954): A popular Polish actress and television presenter who has had a long and successful career in the entertainment industry.
  4. Barbara Włodarczyk (b. 1978): A Polish singer and songwriter, best known for her performances in various musicals and as a member of the Polish pop group Ich Troje.

These are just a few examples of famous Barbaras in Poland’s history, and there are undoubtedly many more who have made significant contributions to Polish society and culture.


In conclusion, the name Barbara has a rich history and deep cultural significance in Poland. It is a name that symbolizes strength, resilience, and a close connection with nature. Moreover, the story of St. Barbara, the patron saint of people working in dangerous professions, demonstrates the importance of faith and courage in the face of adversity. So, if you ever come across a Barbara or know someone named Barbara, remember the fascinating history and the inspiring story of St. Barbara that lies behind this beautiful name.