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Many distinguished families wanted this beautiful, educated and rich woman to marry their sons. Her understanding and kindness made her even more desirable. However having a higher goal in life, St Paraskevi rejected any marriage proposals.
When she was 20 years old, both her parents died
1eaving her as the sole heir to the family fortune. St Paraskevi did not use her fortune for herself. Filled with the spirit of Christ and Christian ideals, she sold all her worldly possessions using the money to relieve human suffering. There was a portion retained to a community treasury that supported a home for reverent virgins who stayed in a kenobion, a type of commune like a contemporary monastery. These women preyed and fasted doing charitable works. They preached primarily to Hebrew and idol worshiping women giving them an opportunity to learn about Christian salvation.
She left Rome at the age of 30 and began her holy mission, passing through many cities and villages. St Paraskevi’s activities occurred during a period that the Jews and Romans persecuted the Christian religion with the greatest intensity. Antoninus Pius (138-161) ruled Rome at this time, and he did not execute Christians without a trial. She was not caught immediately or put to death. Instead, Antoninus protected Christians against the blind mania of the Jewish and Roman inhabitants. Christians could only be brought to trial if another citizen lodged a formal complaint against them. Antoninus however had to repeal this law because of the many disasters which had befallen Rome and which were blamed on the Christians.
Strong in faith, learning, and eloquence, Paraskevi spoke persuasively to her fellow Roman citizens, leading them from idolatry to faith in Christ. Eventually, Antoninus heard of St. Paraskevi's holy mission. Upon her return to Rome, several Jews filed complaints about her and Antoninus summoned her to his palace to question her. Attracted by her beauty and humility he tried with kind words to make her denounce her faith, even promising to marry her and make her an empress. Angered by her refusal he had a steel helmet, lined with nails and compressed on her head with a vice. It had no effect on the Saint and many who witnessed this miracle converted to Christianity. Thrown into prison, Paraskevi asked God to give her the strength to face the terror that awaited her. Antoninus again continued her torture by having her hung by her hair and at the same time burning her hands and arms with torches. The Saint suffered greatly, but had the will not to submit to the pain. Antoninus then prepared a large cauldron of oil and tar, boiled the mixture and then had Paraskevi immersed in it. Miraculously she stood in it as if she being refreshed rather than burned. Angered, Antoninus thought that she was using witchery to keep the contents cooled. Antoninus then approached the cauldron only to be blinded by the hot steam and searing emissions coming from the area. At this moment the mighty emperor asked for the intervention of St Paraskevi to heal him from this affliction to which she responded:
“Emperor, the Christian God is healing you from the blindness that was given to you as a punishment”.
Immediately, he regained his sight. Humbled by the miracle he freed the Saint, allowing her to continue her missionary activity and ended all persecutions against the Christians throughout the Roman Empire.
From this episode it is clear to the Christians that St Paraskevi has the intercessional ability to help people with visual ailments.
This period was brief. After Antoninus' death in 161, a plague broke out throughout the empire. Romans took it as a sign from their gods that that they were angered by the tolerance of Christianity. Under Antoninus' successor, Marcus Aurelius (161-180), the laws dealing with "non-believers" were cahnged and the persecutions against the Christians resumed.
Despite these dangers, Paraskevi persevered in her missionary endeavors, spreading the [[Gospel]] wherever she traveled. By authority of emperor Aurelius the provincial eparchs Asclepius and Tarasios captured St Paraskevi. Having refused Asclepius’ demands to sacrifice to pagan gods, she was thrown into a snake pit. The Saint made the [[Sign of the Cross]] over the serpent and the serpent perished. Asclepius had heard of the Saint’s previous miracles, realized that a great and mighty power guarded Paraskevi and decided to set her free while Asclepius and his court were all converted.
Tarasios however was less tolerant. St Paraskevi was tied and beaten and afterwards imprisoned and a huge rock placed on her chest. She prayed to Christ to help her be strong.
O most majestic One, we have discovered your temple to be a spiritual clinic wherein all the faithful resoundingly honor you, O famed and venerable martyr Paraskevi.
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