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.