July 26, 2016

Synaxarion of Saint Paraskevi the Martyr

On the twenty-sixth of this month [July], we commemorate the Holy Venerable Martyr of Christ Paraskevi.


You prepared yourself for God as a pure temple,
Being led there, Revered One, for habitation.
On the twenty-sixth Paraskevi was beheaded with a sword.

Saint Paraskevi lived during the reign of Emperor Antoninus (138-161), was from a village in old Rome, and the daughter of Christian parents, whose names were Agathon and Politia. They were careful to keep the commandments of the Lord, and were childless, for which reason they supplicated the Lord without ceasing, in order to be given a child. God, who does the will of those who fear Him, granted them a female child, who they named in Holy Baptism Paraskevi, because she was born on the day of Paraskevi (Friday).

She therefore dedicated herself to God since the time she was in her mother's embrace, and was educated and advised by her mother. After the Saint learned sacred letters, she always read the divine Scriptures, and taking leisure in the church of God, she dwelled in holy prayer. When her parents died, she distributed all her possessions to the poor, and was tonsured and dressed in the schema of a Nun, going out to the people, to preach the name of Christ our true God. Hence she turned many Greeks to the knowledge of God.

At that time certain Jews brought accusations against her to Emperor Antoninus, saying: "A certain woman, Paraskevi by name, preaches Jesus the son of Mary, who was crucified by our forefathers." When the emperor heard these things, he ordered for the Saint to be brought before him, and he was astounded and excited by her wisdom and beauty. He therefore said to her: "If you are persuaded by my words, O Maiden, and sacrifice to the gods, you will become an inheritor of many gifts and good things. If you are not persuaded, know that I will hand you over to much torment." With brave thoughts the Saint responded to the emperor: "Far be it from me to deny the name of Christ my God! 'These gods, who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens' (Jer. 10:11), as the Prophet Jeremiah says."

This inflamed the emperor with rage, and ordered that a heated iron helmet be placed on the head of the Saint. While this took place, the Saint was kept unharmed with divine refreshing coolness. Amazed by this, many Greeks came to believe in Christ at that time. The emperor then ordered for a cauldron full of oil and pitch be brought to a boil, and the Saint was placed within. Standing in the middle of the cauldron, the Martyr looked refreshed. When the emperor saw her, he said: "Sprinkle me with the oil and pitch, Paraskevi, that I may know if the pitch and oil are burning." The Saint then filled her hands with it, and sprinkled it on the face of the emperor, immediately making him blind. He thus loudly yelled out: "Have mercy on me, servant of the true God. I also believe in the God you preach." Saying this, his sight was immediately restored. Wherefore he believed in Christ, together with his guards, and they received Holy Baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity.

When the Saint departed from there, she went to other cities and villages, proclaiming the name of Christ. When she arrived at a city ruled by a man named Asklepios, she was brought before him, and she called upon the name of Christ and sealed herself with the sign of the honorable Cross. She confessed that she was a Christian, and proclaimed Christ as the God of heaven and earth. When the king heard this, he was troubled, and sent her to a most fearsome dragon that resided outside the city, which hissed loudly, and when it opened its mouth much smoke came forth. When the Saint approached the dragon, she said: "The wrath of God, O beast, has come against you." Then she blew on the dragon, and made the sign of the honorable Cross. The dragon then hissed loudly, was torn in two, and disappeared. When the king and those with him saw this, they were astonished, and all came to believe in Christ.

The Saint therefore departed from there, and went to another city ruled by another king named Tarasios. When he was informed of the Saint, she stood at trial. When he had asked the Saint, she confessed herself to be a Christian, and proclaimed Christ as the true God. Whence she was placed in a cauldron, which was full of oil and pitch and lead, and beneath it was a lit flame. An Angel of the Lord then cooled the cauldron and what was in it. For this reason the Martyr of Christ remained unharmed. After undergoing many other tortures, the inhuman tyrant was unable to persuade her from her steadfast faith. Finally, he had her honorable head cut off, and the blessed one's soul flew off victorious into the eternal habitations.

Apolytikion in the First Tone
Your diligence corresponded to your name, Paraskevi, which denotes preparedness. Through faith you inherited the promised dwelling that was prepared for you, O prizewinning Martyr. Therefore you pour out cures and healings, and you intercede on behalf of our souls.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
We have found your sacred shrine to be a clinic of the soul, O holy one, and all we faithful now accord honor to you with our voices strong, devout Martyr Paraskevi extolled by all.

The voice of the Bridegroom called you as a bride, and gave you an incorruptible crown, O godly-minded and all-glorious Paraskevi; and He enrolled you, as one worthy, together with the august martyrs and prize-winners. As you rejoice with them, remember us who observe your holy feast and who assemble in your church. For as we stand in it now, we soulfully offer up hymns to you, devout Martyr Paraskevi extolled by all.