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Jan 10, 2013

Saint Barbara – Patron Saint for Miners: Ceremonies Held in Germany and Abroad

All over the world, miners celebrate the 4th of December, commemorating their patron saint St. Barbara and requesting her protection for their daily work.


In December 2012, the traditional commemorations and church services were held at potash locations in Germany and abroad (Canada).

The service honouring St. Barbara for the location Werra was held at the Heringen Protestant church. Active miners and the miners’ choir had worked together to create this festive service. This is also a time to remember last year’s accidents at K+S mines, and all miners who were either injured or killed in mining accidents, and their families.

The miners’ choir at the Protestant church in Heringen (Photograph: K+S KALI GmbH).

Since 1996, the miners working at the Zielitz potash mine meet at the St. Katharinenkirche in Wolmirstedt in order to commemorate St. Barbara. Works Director Hans-Joachim Kind and works council representatives appreciated a job well done in 2012. The service was also held to commemorate all colleagues who had been fatally injured in mining accidents. Klaus Krüger, chairman of the works council, said: “These incidents painfully remind us of the challenges created by working underground.”

Barbara celebration at the Wolmirstedt St. Katharinenkirche (Photograph: K+S KALI GmbH).

At the Neuhof-Ellers potash mine, the traditional Barbara Celebration (for 59 years in a row!) was held in an active mine, during the early shift. The ecumenical service, held by a catholic and a protestant clergyman, was attended by numerous employees, local and state politicians, and by Church and industry representatives. The mining community commemorated the patron saint for all miners, and praised the work done by the miners in 2012.


Already on 1 December the traditional Barbara Celebration was held at the Sigmundshall potash mine. This year’s celebration was hosted by the mining engineers organized in the Ring Deutscher Bergingenieure (RDB), the German association of mining engineers. Also present: representatives from processing and administration.

Left: Barbara celebration on 4 December, at the active mine in Neuhof-Ellers. Right: Barbara celebration hosted by the RDB in Steinhude with “Mountain Troll” (left) (Photographs: K+S KALI GmbH).

In Canada, too, St. Barbara was honoured. The “Legacy Project Barbara Celebration 2012“ was the very first celebration of its kind and was held on 12 December, at the German Cultural Centre in Saskatoon (see photograph). All employees of K+S Potash Canada were invited, as well as the employees of the local service-providers AMEC and MARCH, as well as all consultants included in the project team. The idea was to establish the Barbara Celebration in Canada, in order to transport some of the traditions and values connected to this industry to Canadian colleagues. The festive celebration connected the very beginning of potash mining in Germany, the history of K+S, the legend of St. Barbara and the relevance of the Legacy Project.

“Legacy Project Barbara Celebration 2012“: In Canada, too, St. Barbara was honoured (Photograph: K+S KALI GmbH).

According to the legend, St. Barbara lived in the third century AD. A beautiful young woman, she converted to Christianity against her father’s wishes, and was secretly baptized. Forced to run from her father, she found herself in a rocky area. Touched by her plight, the rocks moved and offered her shelter. This is her connection to mining. barbara was said to be intelligent and independent-minded, and appreciated freedom. These are values shared by miners all over the world.

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