July 26, 2013

The Wondrous Saint Paraskevi

By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos 
of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Saint Paraskevi is honored not only by women who bear her name, but by all Christians. This particularly happens in our province, since there are many parish churches and chapels that are honored with her name, and today they all celebrate brilliantly.

The life of Saint Paraskevi is wonderful. Her parents were pious and virtuous, and her birth took place with the intervention of God. She grew up in a Christian manner, distributed her property to the poor, became a nun, preached Christ, confessed Him, and eventually she was tortured and martyred for the love of Christ. This is why she is called a Venerable Virgin Martyr.

There are icons which depict Saint Paraskevi holding in her hands a dish in which there are two eyes. This refers to a miracle accomplished by the Saint. One of her torments was that she would be put in a burning boiler within which was hot oil and tar. Nevertheless the Saint, by the grace of God, not only did not burn, but it seemed as if she cooled off. The King who watched this torment, was in wonder at this event, and told her to splash some of the oil and tar on him to see if it was hot. As soon as Saint Paraskevi splashed a little on him, his eyes were immediately blinded. Then the Saint supplicated to God and pleaded to Him that He give back the King the sight of his eyes, which happened by her prayers. We are reminded of this miracle through the icon of Saint Paraskevi.

This is the reason why many sick, who suffer eye problems, consider Saint Paraskevi their patron and supplicate that she intervene miraculously and cure them. The saints, by the help of God, are the physicians of our souls and bodies. To them we resort when we have various problems and ask their help. Of course, theologically we say that God Himself acts through the saints, since the saints are the friends and caregivers of Christ.

By extension, Saint Paraskevi can be considered a physician of the diseases of the psychic eye which is our nous. Apart from the eye of the body we also have the eye of the soul by which we can see the glory of God. And as the eyes of the body can get ill, so also can the eye of the soul. Since the eye of the soul is ill, this is why we are evil, and cannot see God. Heresy, atheism and the ignorance of God and many other psychic illnesses are the result of the suffering of the spiritual eye.

The Prophet David says in a Psalm: "Enlighten my darkness". Within us there is darkness because we are psychically blinded and we cannot see the glory of God. This is why Saint Gregory Palamas would pray to Christ: "Enlighten my darkness".

Today we commemorate and celebrate Saint Paraskevi, who lived with Christ and was martyred for His glory. She is the patron also of all those who have problems with their physical eyes, as well as all of us who have problems with the eyes of our souls [the nous] and cannot see the love of God, we cannot realize our passions, the needs of our neighbors, we also cannot see the way to be saved. Let us ask Saint Paraskevi with faith for our healing.

I pray that all of you have many years and blessings. May Saint Paraskevi protect you all of your life, with the power of the Grace of Christ.

Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasis, "Η θαυματουργός Αγία Παρασκευή", June 2008. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.