Tunnellers building a 3.1 mile tunnel under Glasgow are invoking the protection of St Barbara, nodding to a statue of her every time they go to work.

The workmen, who are building a £100m tunnel for Scottish Water, pay reverence to the saint – the patron of tunnellers and miners – each time they board the narrow-gauge train that takes them more than 100ft underground.

A spokesman for Scottish Water told the Scottish Catholic Observer: “St Barbara is the patron saint of tunnellers, and Costain, our contractor, has many experienced staff on site who have worked on projects such as the Channel Tunnel.

“Every tunneller invokes the protection of St Barbara at the start of a shift and thanks her at the end. That’s why there’s a statue of St Barbara placed at the start of the workings.

“No tunnelling project of this scale would be complete without its statue of the patron and tunnellers demand that St Barbara is present with them underground.”

According to tradition, Barbara lived near Istanbul in the 3rd century. Her father, Dios­corus, kept her in a tower with only two windows after she refused to marry the man he had chosen for her.

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