On July 26, the Greek Orthodox Church commemorates Agia Paraskevi, the protector of the eyes.
Agia Paraskevi was born in Rome to Christian parents and was instructed in the Faith of Christ from her youth. With great fervour, Agia Paraskevi endeavoured to fulfil all the commandments of God. Believing firmly and living according to her faith, Paraskevi directed others on the path of salvation and into a pious life.
When her parents died, Paraskevi distributed all of her property to the poor and was tonsured a nun. As a nun, she preached the Christian Faith with even greater zeal, not hiding from anyone, even though, at that time, the Roman authorities were conducting bloody persecution against the Christian Faith. Then the pernicious Jews denounced Agia Paraskevi for preaching a forbidden faith, and she was brought to trial before Emperor Antoninus.
All the flatteries of the emperor did not shake the faith of this handmaiden of God. They then subjected her to torture by fire and placed a red-hot helmet on her head. The Lord miraculously saved her, and Paraskevi was freed and left Rome. She continued travelling from city to city to convert pagans to the true Faith.
She was brought before princes and judges in two more cities and was tortured for her Lord, at which time she worked great miracles and quickly recovered from her pains and wounds by the power of God. The pagans, as always, ascribed her miracles to magic and her swift recoveries to the mercy of their gods.
Agia Paraskevi once told the prince who was torturing her: “O Prince, it is not your gods who have healed me, but my Christ, the true God.” Paraskeviendured exceedingly painful torments and was beheaded in the year 140 by a certain Prince Tarasius, who beheaded her with the sword. Her relics were later translated to Constantinople. She suffered honourably for Christ in the second century.
The faithful pray to her to heal eye ailments, and many with eye conditions consider Agia Paraskevi their patron saint.
The feast and commemoration of Agia Paraskevi are celebrated with the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, which is conducted on the morning of the feast and preceded by a Matins (Orthros) service. A Great Vespers is conducted the evening before the day of the Feast.
Today is the name day of Paraskevi and Paraskevas.