The Holy Martyress Paraskeva, named also Piatnitsa

Commemorated on October 28

      The Holy Martyress Paraskeva, named also Piatnitsa, lived during the III Century at Iconeum in a rich and pious family. The parents of the saint reverenced especially the day of the Passion of the Lord Friday (Piatnitsa), and therefore they called their daughter Paraskeva this name, since she had been born on a Friday-Piatnitsa, and the name Paraskeva in Slavic translation from the Greek means also Piatnitsa-Friday.
      Young Paraskeva with all her heart loved purity and the lofty morality of the virginal life, and she took a vow of celibacy. She wanted to devote all her life to God and to the enlightenment of pagans with the light of the faith of Christ. Upon this righteous path Saint Paraskeva was brought to judgement, bearing in her own name the memory of the day of the terrible Sufferings of Jesus, and she shared in the Passion of Christ also in her own life through her bodily torments. Because of her confession of the Orthodox faith, the pagans in a frenzy seized hold of her and brought her to the city governor. Here they demanded that she offer unholy sacrifice to the pagan idol. With a steady heart, and trusting on God, the saint refused this demand. For this she underwent great torments: having tied her to a tree, the torturers tore at her pure body with iron nails, and then exhausted by the torture, they threw her into prison, all lacerated to the bone. But God did not forsake the holy sufferer, and miraculously healed her torn body. Not heeding this Divine miracle, the executioners continued with their torture of Saint Paraskeva, and finally, they cut off her head.
      Saint Paraskeva-Piatnitsa has always enjoyed an especial love and veneration amongst the Orthodox people. With her memory is associated many a pious custom and observance. In the ancient Russian mesyatseslovs with Saints-Lives, the name of the martyress is inscribed thus: "Saint Paraskeva, also called Piatnitsa". Churches in the name of Saint Paraskeva in antiquity were given the name Piatnitsa. Small wayside chapels received of old in Rus' the name-form Piatnitsa. The simple Russian people called the Martyress Paraskeva variously Piatnitsa, Piatina, Petka. The icons of Saint Paraskeva were especially venerated and embellished by our forefathers. Russian iconographers usually depicted the martyress as an austhere ascetic, tall of stature, with a radiant crown upon her head. Icons of the saint guard over pious and happy households. By Church belief, Saint Paraskeva is protectress of fields and cattle. Therefore on the day of her memory it was the custom to bring fruit to church for blessing, which as a blest object was kept until the following year. Moreover, Saint Paraskeva is prayed to for protection of cattle from disease. Saint Paraskeva is likewise an healer of people from grievous illness of both body and soul.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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