July 30, 2021

A Uniquely Cypriot Icon of Saint Paraskevi

In Cyprus there are two churches from the 15th-16th century that depict Saint Paraskevi holding an icon of Christ known as "Extreme Humility", showing him dead and being taken down from the Cross. This style dates back to the 13th century. In most other icons of Saint Paraskevi she usually holds a Cross in her right hand to indicate her martyrdom, and in her left hand she holds a plate with eyes to indicate her particular gift to heal ailments of the eyes.

The first icon above is from the Church of Saint John the Theologian in Larnaca, while the second icon below is from the Church of the Panagia Eleousa in Melini.

The purpose of this icon is to personify Great and Holy Friday, the day on which the Church venerates the icon of Extreme Humility. The name Paraskevi is also the word used by Greeks for Friday, though it literally means "preparation", since Friday is the day of preparation for the Sabbath. Therefore in this manner there is connection made by the iconographer of this iconographic type between Saint Paraskevi and Great and Holy Friday.