Saint of the Day: Paraskeva, Virgin and Martyr

religion | Oct 21, 2011 | By Martin Barillas

Gospel reading:  Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite  woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy  on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” Jesus did not  answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for  she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of  Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He  replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes  it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s  table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is  granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment. (Matthew 15, 21-28)    

Saint Paraskeva, Virgin and Martyr


The saint and martyr Paraskeva (a.k.a. Paraskevi, Petka, Praskovia )  was born and lived in  Iconium in Asia Minor. Her  parents were Christians who especially honored  Friday - the day of the  week when the Lord  suffered on the Cross,  saving and atoning the  whole mankind. Their  daughter was born on  Friday too. The parents  named her Paraskeva,  which means in Greek  Friday. But this word also means in Greek 'preparation', and St.  Paraskeva was prepared  to suffer for Christ.  She refused all earthly joys, and  remained  a virgin and dedicated  herself to God and  people, helping all who  were in need and suffered. 

In the beginning of the 4th century, persecutions of Christians were renewed and St. Paraskeva  was one of the first victims.  She was weak in her body  but strong in her spirit; the  humble maiden withstood all  the tortures meted out by her pagan captors. The Angel of the Lord  came to her in the prison and brought to her the implements used in the Passion of Our Lord: the cross, the spear and  the hyssop with a sponge.  Having kissed them, the  martyr was healed  completely.

Seeing that she was healed, the pagans tortured her again and beheaded her. Christians  venerate this saint ans ask for her holy intercession to heal wounds, leprosy, and ward off evil  passions. St. Paraskeva  was considered as a  protector of trade, because  market day was frequently held on Fridays. In icons of the saint, she is frequently depicted wearing the red vestments of a martyr or holding a vessel containing the perfume of martyrdom. St Paraskeva is also sometimes depicted with St Barbara, St Juliana, and St Anastasia. She is especially venerated in Russia and the Balkan countries.



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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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