Saint Barbara

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Jan van Eyck, Saint Barbara, 1437, chalk ground on oak panel, 41.4 x 27.8 cm, Roayal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp

Barbara probably lived in the fourth century, in present-day Turkey.  Her father (the king of Nicomedia) locked her away in a tower to hide her beauty, but she was still approached by many suitors.  She converted to Christianity and lived as a hermit in her tower, which angered her father.  He condemed her to death and had her executed, and was himself struck by lightning and incinerated.