January 12, 2014

Holy Virgin Martyr Parthena of Edessa

St. Parthena of Edessa (Feast Day - Sunday after Theophany)

On the first Sunday after Theophany, in the Metropolis of Edessa and Pella, there is commemorated the Holy Virgin Martyrs Neollina, Domnina and Parthena of Edessa.

We do not have details concerning the lives of these Saints, except for that of Saint Parthena of Edessa.

Saint Parthena came from Edessa in Macedonia and was born in the fourteenth century. As was her name so was her life, for she was a virgin, living in asceticism and modesty.

Around the year 1375 Edessa was besieged by the Turks and residents opposed them with a strong defense, strengthened and encouraged by Hieromonk Seraphim, parish priest of the Cathedral of the Dormition of the Theotokos. The enemy was well organized and numerous, and it appeared they were ready to raise a siege.

But at the last moment, one of the elders of the town, named Peter, who was the father of Saint Parthena, was payed a large amount of money by the conquering Pasha of the Turks to betray the city. The Turks invaded Edessa on 26 December 1375 from the southeastern part, which he guarded, where also one of the main bastions of the city was. Immediately they engaged in the slaughter and enslavement of its inhabitants, with plunderings and dishonors. They arrested Hieromonk Seraphim, and after cruel tortures they drowned him in a great waterfall, which bears the name "Waters of Pasha".

The traitor Peter, after his horrible act and the fall of the city, denied Christ and became a Muslim. But this was not enough. He handed over his daughter Parthena to be the concubine of the Pasha, after having tried to convince her to renounce Christ. When Saint Parthena heard these words of her father, like another Saint Barbara, she shuddered and rebuked with spiritual bravery her miserable father and confessed that she would never betray the sweet name of her heavenly Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. He, instead of being remorseful and repentant, was enraged and became like a wild beast. He began to beat the Saint until blood was spilled and she couldn't feel anymore. He then unclothed her and gave her over to the Turks. The soldiers tortured her for three days. In the end, she was led naked to a hill, where they buried her alive. This hill is still called "Hill of the Virgin".

Apolytikion in the Third Tone
Divine offspring, Edessa's provider, and equal in honor, with the renowned Martyrs, Champion who bears the name Parthena, and rebuked the wickedness of your father, with a godly mind you endured the contest for Christ, wherefore intercede for those who honor you, that our sins be remitted and for great mercy.

Kontakion in the Third Tone
Celebrating today, is the city of Edessa, your holy memory, Virgin Martyr Parthena, rejoicing for faithfully rearing you in the Lord, singing of the struggle of your martyrdom, which you accomplished courageously, for the glory of Christ all-praised one.

Rejoice, beauty of the people of Edessa, godly-minded Parthena, incorrupt bride of Christ; rejoice, amusement of the Greek Orthodox, modest Virgin Martyr worthy of wonder.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.