St. Kosmas Aitolos in one of his sermons taught about the Parable of the Sower which can be found in the follwing sections of the Gospels: Matt 13:3-23; Mk 4:2-20; Lk 8:4-15. In interpreting this parable, he explains: "Rock is the heart of the person who hears God's word and accepts it with joy but has little reverence for Christ, and when he's tempted, he denies Christ and goes with the devil. The thorns represent the person who hears God's word and to whom evil passions later come and choke and who remains barren. The good earth is the person who is perfect, who brought forth a hundredfold; the middle person who brought forth sixty-fold; and the lesser person who brought forth thirty-fold." Besides explaining the parable in this way, he brings up lives of the Saints to illustrate each point. After citing examples of each he comes to explain a Saint who yielded a hundred-fold and lifts up this example to his hearers for those who wish to imitate this Saint and yield a hundred-fold as well. This Saint he chose was St. Paraskevi.
Saint Paraskevi the Virgin Martyr
By Saint Kosmas Aitolos
Let us say something about the good earth. St. Paraskevi was a twelve year old maiden from a noble house. Left an orphan, she divided up all her possessions among the poor, and with these she purchased Paradise.
In place of cosmetics, she wore tears, remembering her sins. In place of earings, she kept her ears open to hear the Sacred Scriptures. In place of a necklace, she fasted often, which made her neck shine like the sun. In place of rings, she acquired calluses on her fingers from the many prostrations she made. In place of a golden belt, she had her virginity which she guarded all her life. In place of a dress, she was covered by modesty and fear of God. This is how the Saint decked herself.
If there is any maiden who wishes to adorn herself, let her consider what this Saint did and let her do the same if she wishes to be saved.
In this way, brethren, St. Paraskevi acquired learning and became very wise. Because of her purity, God found her worthy to perform miracles. She cured the blind, the deaf and she raised the dead.
Two Jews, sons of the devil, seeing the Saint perform miracles, envied her and betrayed her to King Antoninus as a Christian. So the King summoned her and asked her to deny Christ and to worship the gods and she would become queen.
The Saint replied: "I am not foolish like you to deny my Christ and to go to the devil; to leave life and go to death. May you leave the darkness and come to the light."
Do you hear, my brethren, how outspoken a young girl was before a king?
Whoever has Christ in his heart fears nothing in the world. If we too wish not to fear either people or demons, let us have God in our hearts.
The King said to the Saint: "I'll give you three days to obey; if you don't I'll put you to death."
The Saint replied: "O King, what you wish to do in three days time, do it now, for I will not deny my Christ."
The King then ordered a big fire to be lighted and over it a large pot was placed, filled with tar and sulfar. Seeing the pot, the Saint rejoiced, for she was to depart from this false world and to go to that which is real and eternal.
The King ordered the Saint to be put into the pot to be boiled. The Saint made the sign of the Cross and got in the pot. The king waited two, three hours and seeing she was not being boiled, he said: "Paraskevi, why aren't you burning?"
The Saint said: "Because Christ cooled the water and I don't burn."
The King replied: "Sprinkle me with the water so I can see whether it burns or not."
The Saint took some water in her two hands and threw it into his face, and immediately behold the miracle - he became blind and his face was flayed.
The King then shouted: "Great is the God of the Christians. In him I also believe. Come out and baptize me."
The Saint got out and baptized him and his entire kingdom. Later another king beheaded her and she went to Paradise to rejoice forever.
This woman yielded a hundred-fold, according to the Lord's word.
By St. Nikolai Velimirovich
Paraskeve was born in Rome of Christian parents and from her youth was instructed in the Faith of Christ. With great fervence, St. Paraskeve endeavored to fulfill all the commandments of God in her life. Believing strongly and living according to her faith, Paraskeve directed others on the path [of salvation] with the help of the True Faith and pious living.
When her parents died Paraskeve distributed all of her property to the poor and was tonsured a nun. As a nun she preached the Faith of Christ with an even greater zeal, not hiding from anyone, even though at that time the Roman authorities bloodily persecuted the Faith of Christ.
First the pernicious Jews accused St. Paraskeve of preaching the prohibited Faith. She was brought to trial before Emperor Antoninus. All the flatteries of the emperor did not help in the least to cause her to waver in the Faith. They then subjected her to fiery torments and placed a red-hot helmet on her head. The Lord miraculously saved her and Paraskeve was delivered and left Rome.
She again traveled from city to city to convert the pagan people there to the True Faith. In two more cities she was brought before princes and judges and was tortured for her Lord, at the same time working great miracles and by the power of God quickly recuperated from her pains and wounds. The pagans, as always, ascribed her miracles to magic and her power of recovery to the mercy of their gods.
St. Paraskeve once said to the prince who tortured her: “It is not your gods, O prince, who healed me but my Christ the True God.” Finally Prince Tarasius beheaded her. Thus this Saint gloriously ended her fruitful life. Her relics were later translated to Constantinople. She suffered honorably for Christ in the second century.
Paraskevi the Venerable Martyr of Rome
Saint Paraskevi, who was from a certain village near Rome, was born to pious parents, Agatho and Politia. Since she was born on a Friday (in Greek, "Paraskevi"), she was given this name, which means "Preparation" or "Preparedness" (compare Matt. 27:62, Mark 15:42, Luke 23:54, and John 19:31, where 'Friday' is called "the day of the preparation"). From childhood she was instructed in the sacred letters and devoted herself to the study of the divine Scriptures, while leading a monastic life and guiding many to the Faith of Christ. During the reign of the Emperor Antoninus Pius, she was apprehended because she was a Christian and was urged to worship the idols, but she answered with the words of Jeremias: "Let the gods that have not made heaven and the earth perish from off the earth" (Jer. 10:11). Because of this she endured exceedingly painful torments, and was beheaded in the year 140. The faithful pray to her for the healing of eye ailments.
Paraskeva the Righteous Martyr of Rome
Holy Virgin Martyr Paraskeva of Rome was the only daughter of Christian parents, Agathon and Politia, and from her early years she dedicated herself to God. She spent much of her time in prayer and the study of the Holy Scriptures. After the death of her parents St Paraskeva distributed all of her inheritance to the poor, and consecrated her virginity to Christ. Emulating the holy Apostles, she began to preach to the pagans about Christ, converting many to Christianity.
She was arrested during the reign of Antoninus Pius (138-161) because she refused to worship the idols. She was brought to trial and fearlessly confessed herself a Christian. Neither enticements of honors and material possessions, nor threats of torture and death shook the firmness of the saint nor turned her from Christ. She was given over to beastly tortures. They put a red-hot helmet on her head and threw her in a cauldron filled with boiling oil and pitch. By the power of God the holy martyr remained unharmed. When the emperor peered into the cauldron, St Paraskeva threw a drop of the hot liquid in his face, and he was burned. The emperor began to ask her for help, and the holy martyr healed him. After this the emperor set her free.
Traveling from one place to another to preach the Gospel, St Paraskeva arrived in a city where the governor was named Asclepius. Here again they tried the saint and sentenced her to death. They took her to an immense serpent living in a cave, so that it would devour her. But St Paraskeva made the Sign of the Cross over the snake and it died. Asclepius and the citizens witnessed this miracle and believed in Christ. She was set free, and continued her preaching. In a city where the governor was a certain Tarasius, St Paraskeva endured fierce tortures and was beheaded in the year 140.
Many miracles took place at the saint's tomb: the blind received sight, the lame walked, and barren women gave birth to children. It is not only in the past that the saint performed her miracles, but even today she helps those who call on her in faith.
7 Astonishing Miracles of Saint Paraskevi
The Grotto-Shrine of Saint Paraskevi in Woodlawn, New York
Apolytikion in the First Tone
Appropriate to your calling, O Champion Paraskeve, you worshipped with the readiness your name bears. For an abode you obtained faith, which is your namesake. Wherefore, you pour forth healing and intercede for our souls.
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
O most majestic One, we have discovered your temple to be a spiritual clinic wherein all the faithful resoundingly honor you, O famed and venerable martyr Paraskeve.