Greatmartyr Parasceva of Iconium

The Great Martyr Paraskeva of Iconium, lived during the third century in a rich and pious family. The parents of the saint especially reverenced Friday, the day of the Passion of the Lord, and therefore they called their daughter Paraskeva. This name, Paraskeva, also means Friday.

Young Paraskeva with all her heart loved purity and the loftiness of the virginal life, and she took a vow of celibacy. She wanted to devote all her life to God and to enlighten pagans with the light of Christ.

Because of her confession of the Orthodox Faith, the pagans in a frenzy seized her and brought her to the city prefect. They demanded that she offer unholy sacrifice to the pagan idols. With a steady heart, and trusting on God, the saint refused this demand. For this she underwent great torments: after stripping her, they tied her to a tree and beat her with rods. Then the torturers raked her pure body with iron claws. Finally, they threw her into prison, exhausted by the torture and lacerated to the bone. But God did not forsake the holy sufferer, and miraculously healed her wounds. Not heeding this divine miracle, the executioners continued with their torture of St Paraskeva, and finally, they cut off her head.

St Paraskeva has always enjoyed a special love and veneration among the Orthodox people. Many pious customs and observances are associated with her. In the ancient Russian accounts of the Saints’ Lives, the name of the Great Martyr is inscribed as: “St Paraskeva, also called Piatnitsa (in Russian: Friday).” Churches dedicated to St Paraskeva in antiquity were given the name Piatnitsa. Small wayside chapels in Rus received the name Piatnitsa. The simple Russian people called the Martyr Paraskeva variously Piatnitsa, Piatina, Petka.

Icons of St Paraskeva were especially venerated and embellished by the faithful. Russian iconographers usually depicted the martyr as an austere ascetic, tall of stature, with a radiant crown upon her head. Icons of the saint guard pious and happy households. By Church belief, St Paraskeva is protectress of fields and cattle. Therefore, on her Feastday it was the custom to bring fruit to church to be blessed. These blessed objects were kept until the following year. Moreover, St Paraskeva is invoked for protection of cattle from disease. She is also a healer of people from grievous illness of both body and soul.