The holy and great martyr Parasceve was born during Hadrian’s reign (117-38) in a village near Rome. She was the daughter of Agathon and Politeia, Christian parents, who for many years had asked the Lord for a child. God, who always fulfils the desires of those who fear Him, gave them a daughter whom they named Parasceve, both because she was born on a Friday and from devotion to the life-giving Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
From earliest childhood, she consecrated herself entirely to the things of God.
Feeling no attraction for childish games, she spent all her time either in church, being present at the Offices, or at home, praying or meditating on the Word of God. She was twelve years old” when her parents died, and she distributed their great wealth to those In need and took the veil, a sign of her consecration to God.
After passing some time in complete submission to her abbess, being desirous of sharing the treasure of the Faith with others, she left the monastery and went through towns and villages proclaiming the Name of Christ. Through her proclamation, she brought many pagans to the true Faith and aroused the hatred and jealousy of the Jews, who denounced her to the ruler of the region in which she found herself. He immediately ordered the arrest of this noble Christian and had her brought before him. When he saw her, he was overcome by her beauty and quickly tried to win her over through flattery, saying: ‘If you let yourself be convinced by my words and agree to offer sacrifice, you will receive great wealth; but If you persist in your stubborn refusal, know that I shall hand you over to terrible tortures.’
The frail young girl replied to him with a virile boldness: ‘I shall never deny my most sweet Jesus Christ, and no torture could ever separate me from His love, for He said: “I am the Light of the world; whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” John 8:12). As for your gods, who made neither heaven nor earth, they shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens (Jer. 10:11).
The King’s anger was inflamed, and he gave the order to his soldiers to place a red-hot helmet on the Saint’s head. Covered in dew, like the Three Young Men in the furnace, Saint Parasceve felt no suffering. Her breasts were cut off and she was thrown Into prison with a heavy stone on top of her wounded chest, but was
healed by an angel who appeared in a great earthquake. Seeing the miracle, seventy of the garrison’s soldiers were converted to Christ; at the tyrant’s order, they were immediately executed and Parasceve was brought before him again.
When she reiterated her ardent confession of faith, the Saint was plunged Into a bronze cauldron filled with molten lead. Yet here too, her body, having received
through virginity and ascesis the first fruits of future incorruptibility, remained untouched. Thinking that the mixture was not at boiling point, the tyrant went up to it and was blinded by the heat of the furnace. Recognising his fault through the painful consequences, he began to cry: ‘Have pity on me, o servant of the true God; give me back my sight and I shall believe in the God whom you proclaim!’ Through the Saint’s prayers, he received not only his sight but also the light of faith, and at his request, was baptised in the Name of the Holy Trinity, along with all his entourage.
Once free, Saint Parasceve left the region to continue her mission.
Finding herself in a town governed by a certain Aesculapius, she was proclaiming Christ when she was arrested and brought before the tribunal. When Aesculapius asked her to say who she was, the Saint made the Sign of the Cross and declared that she was a servant of the God who created heaven and earth, who had
offered Himself on the Cross for our salvation, and who would return in glory to judge the living and the dead. The tyrant had her beaten with rods, but the Saint continued to glorify God, her gaze turned towards heaven, and when Aesculapius halted the torturers, to ask her if she would sacrifice, she spat on him, with disdain in her eyes. Beside himself with rage, he told the soldiers to flay her to the bone. Yet after a night spent in the dungeon, the soldiers found her once again unharmed.
When Parasceve asked to go to the temple of Apollo, all the pagans rejoiced, thinking she would at last agree to offer sacrifice. Once there, after long prayer, she made the Sign of the Cross and all the idols tumbled down, making a great noise, and the people cried out: ‘Great is the God of the Christians!’
The priests who were responsible for the idols were outraged, and furiously demanded that she be put to death. She was thrown into a pit, but, by her prayer, she put to death the dragon and reptiles that were there.
Realising that all his attempts had remained totally fruitless, Aesculapius sent the Saint to another region, governed by the cruel Tarasius. While she was healing all the sick who came to her through the invocation of the Name of Christ, the King summoned her to appear before him, accused her of practising magic, and
had her thrown into a stinking pit, full of venomous wild beasts. Through the Sign of the Cross, this foul hole became like a fragrant spring meadow, and the Saint, protected by an angel, remained untouched by all the other tortures they inflicted upon her. Unable to contain his rage, the King ordered that the servant of God be
beheaded. Falling to her knees, Parasceve prayed with tears, confiding her courageous soul to Christ her Spouse and asking Him to grant the forgiveness of sins to all who would honour her memory.
When her head fell under the sword, a heavenly voice was heard, welcoming the Saint into the Kingdom of Heaven, a Kingdom she had announced by her proclamation and the miracles that had accompanied her. From that time forth, fragments of her relics, scattered in various churches, have not ceased to accomplish numerous healings, in particular, those concerned with diseases of the eye.
The Synaxarion, published by the Convent of the Annunciation in Ormylia