We all have a special saint. Who is yours?
“You chose a silent and solitary life; You followed Christ your Bridegroom. You took his easy yoke in your youth, arming yourself with the sign of the Cross. You contended against spiritual enemies through fasting, tears and labors, O glorious Paraskeva. Now you stand before Christ with the Wise Virgins: Intercede for us who honor your precious memory.” (Tropar to Saint Paraskeva the New)
Most Orthodox communities have the same saints, and almost everyone venerates the same saints. However, as I have visited Greek Orthodox places and spoken to various Orthodox people, I have realized that not a lot of people know about a saint who is very special to me, and that is Saint Paraskeva the New (also known as St. Paraskeva of Serbia). Since her feast day is next month (October 27th old calender, 14th of October new calender), I wanted to write a little something about her.
St.Paraskeva was born near Constantinople around the 11th century. Her family was well known, and since her young years, she was raised as a pious girl. She had an older brother who was tonsured a monk and later became a bishop.
Paraskeva always wanted to give her life to Christ; however, her parents would not allow her to since she was the only child left to them. During her young years, she would pass by the church, and whenever she saw a poor man/woman, she would give them her clothes and come back in rags.
When her parents reposed, Paraskeva sold all their belongings and gave them to the poor. She then went off into the desert by herself for many, many years. During her time there, she struggled spiritually. The evil one would attack her countless times, but with faith and love for Christ, she endured.
An angel of God came to her near the end of her life and told her to return to Constantinople for it was time for her to be celebrated in heaven. Paraskeva returned and died. She was buried in an unnamed grave for no one knew who she was. Years passed, and only when a dead body was buried over her grave did people find out who she was. She visited two people in their dreams to tell them to remove her body from the grave, and once Christ himself came to tell those two people that it was time to venerate his servant, Paraskeva, on Earth, the body was removed. Today, her relics are in Romania where thousands of people go each year to find refuge.
I choose to write about St.Paraskeva because I was born on her feast day. Ten years later, my little sister was also born on this day. To me, St.Paraskeva is someone who is a part of who I am. Since my young years, I have prayed to her and she has always been there for me. Whenever it gets difficult, I turn to her and ask for help, and she prays to God for me, and I always receive the help I need.
When I was six years old, my dog had died and I was heartbroken. One night during my dream, St.Paraskeva came to me and told me to listen to my parents, to go to church, to always pray to God, and that she would always take care of me. To this day, I remember that peace I felt the next morning after I woke up. It is a peace I am still searching for and can only find when I am in church. I urge you all to pray to her or any other saint that you find special to you, for their prayers can do and will do so much for us and for those we care about.