My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,


On the 27th of July, Our Holy Orthodox Church commemorates
the holy, glorious, and far-famed Venerable Martyr of Christ,

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. First Tone

SHOWING a diligence befitting thy calling, O namesake of preparedness,
thou hast gained, as thy dwelling, a faith worthy of thy name, O
prizewinning Paraskeve. Hence, thou poorest forth healings and
intercedest for our souls.

Kontakion Hymn. Plagal of Fourth Tone

WITH one accord, ye faithful, let us sing a hymn of praise to the
prizewinner, the victorious Paraskeve, for she shineth forth, with
wonders throughout the whole world, as she driveth off delusion’s
black and moonless night and doth grant abundant grace unto
believing souls as they cry to her: Rejoice, O much suffering
Martyr of Christ.

Saint Paraskeve (Paraskevi), the far-famed righteous Martyr of Christ, was born during the reign of Emperor Hadrian (117-138 A.D.). Paraskeve’s father, Agathon, was a wealthy and devout Orthodox Christian. His wife, also a Christian, was named Politia. The couple lived in a suburb of the great city of Rome. Before Paraskeve’s birth, her parents, engaged in charity work and the giving of alms, had no child–neither male nor female–which causee them continual and deep distress. The couple, therefore, besought God for a child. This was because hey desired not only an heirof their large estate byt also a continuation of the family name lest it should disappear.

The All-Good God, Who does will of those who fear Him and Who does hearken to their entreaties, hearkened to the prayers of Politia and Agathon. Soon Politia cnceived and, in due time, she gave birth to a girl. Since the infant was born on the sixth day of the week, Friday, it came to pass that when she was baptized, they named her Paraskeve (the Greek word for Friday or, much rather, day of "PREPARATION").

From her infancy, Paraskeve presaged what she would be later in life. She played in neither an undisciplined disorderly manner, as some foolish girls, nor did she paricipate in improper pastimes. Paraskeve possessing the love of learning Sacred Scriptures from girlhood, was neer absent from church. She was studious and no ne behelf her without a book in her hands, unless she was eating or engaged in personal chores. Desirinig to emulae the purity of the Most Holy Mother of God, Paraskeve greatly admired virginity. Therefore, she was careful with her eyes lest unrestrained vision and gazing upon men usher in lust. She also guarded her mouth against shameful words and protected her ears from hearing disgraceful account that are not suitable or conducive o purity. Indeed, it is not only important to keek bodily virginity but also to maintain a pure soul. She is truly a virgin who does not entertain unseemly thoughts and desires.

When Paraskeve reached twenty years of age, her parents reposed. As a wealthy heiress, she immediately exhibited an excellent and superior course of action. She did not use her large inheritance for raiment, or bodily relaxation and recreation, or for feasting. Instead, she elected to hearken to the Lord, Who said, "Sell your possessions and give alms. Make for yourselves purses whichdo not become old, an unfailing treasure in the heavens, where no thief draweth near nor moth destroyeth; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Luke 12:33-34). Therefore, in the name of the Lord, she disributed all of her goods among the poor.

Paraskeve then betook herself to a Women’s Monastery and donned the monastic garb. Nun Paraskeve excelled in obedience and humility, as she served the Lord and the eldress of the Monastery. Since Paraskeve loved to witness on behalf of the name of Christ, she received the Abbess’ blessing and that of the sisterhood, to leave the Monastery and preach in every city and town the name of the True God, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Mother Paraskeve was thirty years old when the Emperor of Old Rome was Antoninus Pius (138-161 A.D.), an idolater. In one city, where she proclaimed the Gospel, certain Jews were inimical toward the Christians. When they beheld the Christian community growing, they became antagonistic and outraged at her missionary activities. Now Emperor Antoninus would not execute a Christian without a trial. A Christian could only stand trial if a formal complaint were lodged by a citizen of Rome. Several disgruntled Jews lodged complaints against the Venerable Nun Paraskeve. They presented their case to Antoninus saying, that a certain nun named Paraskeve proclaims Jesus Christ as theonly true God and that the deities of thy realm are deaf and senseless wood!"

Upon hearing this accusation, the Emperor was filled with wrath. Straightway, the Emperor sent soldiers to apprehend Mother Paraskeve. Brought before the imperial tribunal, all were astonished at her loveliness. The Emperor, admiring her beauty, began to flatter her. He went to say to her "If thou wilt remain steadfast in thine own wilfulness, disdaining our conmmands, know this, I shall punish thee by many tortures. Mother Paraskeve then made the sign of the Cross, and answered him, "Do not think, O Emperor, that by means of either faltteries or threats that I could renounce my sweet Jesus Christ. Indeed, there does not exist even one torment, or punishment, or afflictions which can separate me from His love."

Upon hearing the bold response of the holy Paraskeve, the Emperor, infuriated, ordered that an iron helmet, fired to be burning hot, was to be placed on the nun’s head. However, as the Lord preserved the Three Children in the Babylonian furnace, He wrought in His Saint, Paraskeve. When the fiery helmet was placed upon her head, it felt as cool water upon her head. He then ordered that the holy nun be imprisoned until he should decide what means of torture could lead to death.

When Mother Paraskeve was in her cell, she, with tears, prayed to God and said, "Keep me, O Lord, in Thy true Faith, and deliver mer from the stumbling blocks of the enemy, for unto Thee do I lift up my soul." An Angel of the Lord said, "Rejoice, Paraskeve, prize bearer of Christ! Fear not the torments of the tyrants, because our Lord, Who ondescended to be crucified for the salvation of all and to be crowned with a crown of thorns, shall be thy Helper. He shall deliver thee out of every temptation." After uttering these words, the Angel loosed the righteous woman from her bonds. The Saint, after hearing the words of the Angel, continued praying until daybreak.

Trial by a Hot Cauldron of Oil and Pitch fill
In the morning the Emperor ordered his soldiers to hang the Saint by her hair, upon a pole. Included amSaintong the application of torments by the tormenters were lit tortures for burning her armpits and extremities. Suffering all these tortures, the Saint bravely endured as she rebuked and mocked the Emperor and his false gods.

Observing that this torture was of no account to the holy nun, he commanded the preparation of a large cauldron of oil and pitch. Coming to a boiling oil, he had the holy woman cast inside it. Saint Paraskeve then stood rejoicing in the midst of the cauldron, as though she were enjoying a deliciously cool and dewy garden. Astounded at this miraculous spectacle, the Emperor approached the cauldron and asked her, "Sprinkle me with the oil, O Paraskeve. I, too, desire to know indeed whether or not I am seeing burning pitch and oil or an illusion." Cupping her two hands together, the Saint filled the with oil and pitch. Casting the concoction into his face, instantly, the Emperor was stricken with blindness. Letting out a loud cry, he said, "Grieve for me, O handmaid of the True God! Grant me the light of my eyes, because I, too, believe in the God Whom thou dost preach." Christ’s all-round contestant then emerged from the cauldron. Healing both his bodyand soul, she baptized him in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, the one Godhead.

After this incident, Emperor Antoninus truly came to believe in Christ, and cast off the vile religion of the pagan Greeks. Having formerly received the sees of impiety, the Empero now enjoyed cultivation by the Gospel. Thus, during his reign, all persecutions against Christians in the Roman Empire ceased. Released from prison, Saint Paraskeve left Rome and went to other cities and countries, heralding the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Saint Paraskeve Suffers Great Tortures

King Asklepios commanded that Paraskeve be brought outside the city to the cave where a huge serpent lurked. Many who were condemned were cast as prey to this creature. As Mother Paraskeve approached the serpent’s lair, the creature, bellowing, let out a ghastly vapor, as it slithered forward to devour her. Standing by the creature, making the sign of the Cross, the Saint declared, "O most wicked beast, the wrath of God has overtaken thee! Behold, thy destruction approaches, because thou hast consumed many innocent victims!" The dreaded serpent then stopped and straightway, making a hissing sound and turning about, it split asunder. Beholding this extraordinary event, King Asklepios and those with him came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Saint Paraskeve left that city. She then proceeded to enter other cities and countries, pushing forth, as a wellspring of life, the reaching of Christ.

King Tarasios

As for Mother Paraskeve, she entered a new city. The Saint preached the word of Truth. The king of that region, Tarasios, learning of her missionary activities, had her presented before his tribunal. "Why dost thou preach Him Who was crucified by the Jews as a criminal, a deceiver, and one contrary to God?" The Saint answered, "An evil spirit has not sent me here, O king, to preach the Truth, but Christ, the True God, sent me to preach His unoriginate Divinity…The pre-eternal God that I preach is perfect God and perfect Man. The idols that you foolish Greeks worship are deaf and senseless. I mock and trample upon them, since they are only dead wood and senseless sttones."

Tarasios, hearing this, was extremely incensed. Then he immediately ordered the preparation of a large cauldron of oil, pitch, and lead. Brought to a boil, the Saint was cast in. What, then, was wrought by our Wonderworking God? As teh Lord sent His Angel to bedew the holy Three Children in teh Babylonian furnace He, also, in this hour, sent forth a luminous Angel. The radiant being descended and extinguished the flames, making the cauldron a pool of cool water. By this miracle, many of the greeks turned to the knowledge of God.

King Tarasios, again, said to his soldiers, "Seize that abominable woman and defamer of the gods. Stretch her out on the ground and tie her hands and feet. Without mercy, scourge her until she either agrees to offer sacrifice to the great gods or succumbs to death under torture." Saint Paraskeve verily rejoiced under torture as though she were nt experiencing the scourging. The perverse king, observing her patient endurance, was shamed before the people and cast into prison.

Mothe Paraskeve was then stretched, prone to the earth, by her hands and feet. A large marble slab was then placed upon her chest. Christ’s athlete was made to undergo this punishment, by order of the king, until he chose the manner of her death…that evening Christ, escorted by a multitude of Angels and Archangels, appeared to the Saint and said, "Rejoiice, Paraskeve, O beautiful virgin! Do not be timid amid the torments, because My grace shall be with thee to deliver thee from every temptation. Be patient a little longer, and then thou shalt reign with Me forever." After Christ healed her wounds and released her form her bonds, He ascended into the heavens.

King Tarasios ordered that Paraskeve escorted outside the city so that her impious head should be struck off. After this, the soldiers took hold of the Saint and led her out of the city to behead her. Arrivinig at the execution site, the holy nun made a last request for a little time to pray. With permission granted, she knelt and raised her hands heavenward in prayer. After the Saint utttered her last words, she heard a voice–like unto thunder–say, "I have hearkened to thine entreaty, O Paraskeve, and I desire it to be as thou hast requested."

With profound joy, the Venerable Paraskeve, inclined her head. The soldier acting as headsman, a the king’s command, struck off her sacred head. The date was teh 26th day of the month of July, in the year 180 A.D. She is now counted among the choirs of prize-bearing women in the Kingdom of the Heavens. The Saint’s revered relics were taken by certain Christians, who hid for fear of the pagan Greeks. Anointing her holy relics with myrrh and sweet-smelling spices, she was laid to rest ia a solemn place.

The Lord, desiring to make wondrous His Saint, granted countless miracles at her tomb. Many infirm came and, by only taking the soil from her tomb, reeeived healing. The Saint lavished cures upon the lame, enabling them to walk. So many blind received their sight that the Saint came to be known as the "Patroness of the blind." (Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church)

"Glory Be To GOD

All Things!"

– Saint John Chrysostomos

+ + +

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministery),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+ Father George

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