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Reina del Mar Parlor No. 126 of Native Daughters of the Golden West has selected its member Lynn Kirst to portray Saint Barbara, the city’s patron saint, during this year’s Old Spanish Days Fiesta.  Lynn was introduced to the public at Casa de la Guerra on Thursday, April 21, 2022.  In a tradition that dates from 1926, each year Reina del Mar Parlor has chosen one of its members to represent Saint Barbara.  The parlor was founded in April 1901, 121 years ago. The announcement of Saint Barbara coincided with commemoration of the founding of the Santa Barbara Presidio 240 years ago in 1782.

Credit: Fritz Olenberger

A fourth generation Californian and resident of Montecito, Lynn Kirst graduated from Bishop Garcia Diego High School in Santa Barbara, then earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in the History of Art from the University of Southern California. While completing her undergraduate degree, Lynn participated in the USC Study Abroad program, spending a semester living in Madrid, Spain, where she studied Art History at the Prado Museum. Lynn also completed the 2-year graduate program in Historic Preservation at the USC School of Architecture.

Lynn has been a member of Reina del Mar Parlor since 2009 and has supported its projects. A longtime community volunteer, Lynn is a Sustaining Member of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art Women’s Board, serves on the Legacy Council of the Sacramento-based California Rangeland Trust, the Advisory Boards of both Hearts Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley Therapeutic Riding Program, and is a member of the SYV WIGS of People Helping People. She is a former member of the board of directors of the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, Community Arts Music Association (CAMA), and the Executive Committee of the Sierra Club’s Santa Barbara Group. Lynn has also served on committees for numerous organizations, including the Santa Barbara Historical Museum and the Wildling Museum in Solvang. She is a member of the Santa Barbara Corral of Westerners International and serves on the Design Committee at Birnam Wood Golf Club. A lifelong equestrienne, Lynn is a charter member of The Fillies, a women’s riding group founded in 1994, and was named “Filly of the Year” in 2007.

“Being selected as the 2022 Saint Barbara was a huge surprise,” said Lynn Kirst. “My parents were married at Mission Santa Barbara in 1947, and local history has always meant a great deal to me. On a poignant personal note, my presentation as Saint Barbara not only coincides with the 240th birthday of Santa Barbara, but also with the anniversary of my late husband’s death seven years ago. As a survivor of both the Thomas Fire in 2017 and the Montecito debris flow in 2018, I could never have imagined then that as a widow facing those disasters alone, my life would be as blessed as it is now with this great honor.”

Lynn’s first career was in museum fundraising, during which she held senior development positions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Laguna Art Museum, and the Southwest Museum.  She was the founding president of Spectrum Tours, a museum travel company that she ran for 10 years, providing custom-designed luxury educational trips for dozens of cultural institutions throughout the United States. Her clients included the Smithsonian Institution, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Minneapolis Art Institute, and the Museum of Northern Arizona, among many others. Her local clients included the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

Credit: Fritz Olenberger

Lynn is an award-winning non-fiction writer and photographer who has been published in a wide variety of periodicals, both local and national. She penned the “Trail Talk” column for the Montecito Journal for 10 years. Lynn was also the editor of Southwest Cooks! The Tradition of Native American Cuisines, which won the National Grand Prize of the 1992 Tabasco Community Cookbook Awards.

For Fiesta events, Lynn will be dressed in Saint Barbara’s traditional white gown and scarlet cape, and will wear a golden crown.  She will carry the martyr’s palm frond and a golden chalice.  For social events, Lynn will wear an ivory Spanish-style floor-length dress and a mantilla.

The Santa Barbara Channel was named for Saint Barbara during the Viscaino expedition in late 1602.  In the eighteenth century the royal Spanish presidio fortress (1782) and Mission Santa Barbara (1786) were named in her honor.  The saint is the patroness of protection from lightning and calamity, and is revered by artillerymen, mariners, and architects.

The Native Daughters of the Golden West is a statewide organization founded in 1886.  It has a long history of involvement with contributions to historic preservation, veterans’ welfare, conservation, California mission restoration, the N.D.G.W. Children’s Foundation charity, patriotic activities, and college scholarships.  Reina del Mar Parlor No. 126 was chartered in Santa Barbara on April 20, 1901.  It is well known for its old Spanish Days Fiesta activities, child welfare work, over one hundred years of missions preservation, plaque dedications of historic buildings, and civic participation.


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