Santa Barbara View Leads Campaign to Stop Saint Barbara from Being Exploited as a Mermaid

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In the coastal town of Santa Barbara, California, the Patron Saint for whom the City was named, was recently transformed from an expression of faith to a figure of fun, from a holy icon to a trendy logo.

In Santa Barbara, California, Saint Barbara was recently transformed from an expression of faith to a figure of fun, from a holy icon to a trendy logo. The new $10,000 Saint Barbara logo, unveiled on August 15, 2013, portrays the City’s Patron Saint as an unclothed mermaid.

The region's online magazine, Santa Barbara View ( has spear-headed the effort to recall the logo and stop a holy icon from becoming a trendy logo.

“Obviously, no one involved with this branding effort bothered to check with anyone in the religious community about the appropriateness of giving St. Barbara a makeover from chaste true believer hidden in a tower to full-bodied babe emerging naked from the sea,” wrote columnist Cheri Rae in a letter that stirred to coastal town. "This commercial hijacking of St. Barbara is a violation of both church and state, since taxpayers of all faiths—or no faith at all—paid for this!”

The mermaid-looking logo, which was supposed to represent Saint Barbara, was widely panned by the community. "I don’t see the connection with St. Barbara," said Santa Barbara City Councilman Dale Francisco. The historical aspect of the City's Patron Saint as a protector of ships was also called into question. "Historically mermaids were demonic," Francisco said.

The ongoing effort by Santa Barbara View to organize a letter writing and social media campaign has taken off. Stories about City's Patron Saint produced the highest traffic in the history of the site while politicians have gravitated to the issue. "We could have asked all local artists, traditional or graphic, to submit entries to the city," said Santa Barbara City Council candidate Jason Nelson. "We then could have hosted an art walk and show to present the entries in the name of community building!"

Saint Barbara was no mermaid, she was the beautiful daughter of a wealthy heathen named Dioscorus, who lived near Nicomedia in Asia Minor in the 3rd Century. Because of her singular beauty and fearful that she be demanded in marriage and taken away from him, he jealously shut her up in a tower to protect her from the outside world.

While in confinement, she became a convert to Christianity and had her father’s workman add a third window to her tower to represent the Holy Trinity. When her father found out that she had become a Christian, he became so enraged he beheaded her with his own sword. Shortly after, he was struck by lightning and killed.

She is regarded as the patron saint in time of danger from thunderstorms, fires and sudden death and is patroness of architects, artillerymen and seafarers.

In 1602 Sebastián Vizcaíno gave the name “Santa Barbara” to the region in gratitude for having survived a violent storm in the Channel on December 3, the eve of the feast day of that saint. is an online magazine focused on the quality-of-life issues, people, places, events, and pastimes that affect our community mosaic. It’s a place for civil, thought-provoking and high-quality public discussion, and a respectful airing of different points of view. Publishing since 2005, the mission of the award-winning website is to help Keep Santa Barbara Santa Barbara™.

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Tom Bird
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