- For other saints named "Paraskevi," see the disambiguation page.
St. Paraskevi was born in a village near Rome to pious Christian parents, Agatho and Politea. Her parents prayed fervently for a child, and God finally blessed their piety. They gave great honor to Friday, the day of Our Lord's suffering. Being born on this day, her parents named her Paraskevi ("Friday" in Greek, but literally "preparation").
Strong in faith, learning, and eloquence, Paraskevi spoke persuasively to her fellow Roman citizens, leading them from idolatry to faith in Christ. The rumor of her successes eventually fell upon the ears of the Emperor Antoninus Pius. Summoning her to the Imperial Palace, he attempted to dissuade her from believing in Jesus Christ. Refusing to deprecate her own beliefs, Paraskevi was submitted to gruesome tortures, yet to no avail on the part of the emperor. Finally, she was lowered in a kettle of boiling oil and pitch. But the emperor saw her standing in the vat as if in cool water, unharmed. He asked if Paraskevi had bewitched the pot through some form of magic. In response, Paraskevi scooped up a bit of the boiling liquid, and tossed it toward the emperor, urging him to test it for himself. Some of the oil and pitch splashed into his eyes, blinding him. Screaming in pain, the emperor begged the young woman to heal him. She called upon the name of the Lord, and instantly the emperor regained his sight. Astonished by the miracle, Antoninus released Paraskevi. He also ceased persecuting Christians throughout the Roman Empire; however, 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, Christian persecution resumed.
Despite these dangers, Paraskevi persevered in her missionary endeavors, spreading the Gospel wherever she traveled. In one city, the governor Asclepius threw her into a pit with a poisonous serpent, convinced the snake would kill her. Instead, Paraskevi made the Sign of the Cross over the serpent, and he stiffened and split in two. As a result, Asclepius and his court were all converted.
Eventually, Paraskevi was brought to trial in one city under the governance of Tarasius. Once again the tortures under which she was subjected did not persuade her to deny Christ. Consequently, Tarasius in his anger ordered her beheading. Her remains were eventually taken to Constantinople, where they are venerated by the faithful to this very day. Among many Orthodox Christians she is venerated as a healer of the blind and those with eye ailments.