Saint Paraschiva is the patron of the Ladies” Auxiliaries of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America, and our own chapter, the “Ancestral Faith.” She is well loved by all Orthodox Christians. Her relics lie in a special chapel in the city of Iași, Romania, where hundreds of thousands of pilgrims visit her every year on her Feastday, October 14. Her name means, literally, Holy Friday.
Saint Paraschiva the New was born into a pious family, living during the eleventh century in the village of Epivato, between Silistra and Constantinople. Her older brother Euthymius became a monk, and later he was consecrated as Bishop of Matidia. One day, while attending the divine services, the words of the Lord pierced her heart like an arrow, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself” (Mt. 16:24). From that time she began to distribute her clothing to the needy, for which reason she endured much grief from her family.
Upon the death of her parents, the saint was tonsured into monasticism at the age of fifteen. She withdrew to the Jordanian desert where she lived the ascetic life until she reached the age of twenty-five. An angel of the Lord ordered her to return to her homeland, so she stayed at Epivato for two years.
St Paraschiva departed to the Lord at the age of twenty-seven, and was buried near the sea. Because of the many miracles which took place at her grave, her relics were uncovered and found to be incorrupt. They were placed in the church of the Holy Apostles at Epivato, where they remained for about 175 years.
St Paraschiva”s relics were moved to Trnovo, Bulgaria in 1223 and placed in the cathedral. Patriarch Euthymius wrote her Life and established the day of her commemoration as October 14. The Turks occupied Bulgaria in 1391, and her relics were given to Mircea the Elder, Prince of Wallachia (one of the districts of Romania). In 1394 the relics were given to Princess Angelina of Serbia (July 30), who brought them to Belgrade. For 120 years St Paraschiva”s relics rested in Constantinople in the patriarchal cathedral.
On June 13, 1641, her incorrupt relics were transferred to the monastery of the Three Hierarchs at Iași in Romania, where many healings took place. On December 26, 1888, after being rescued from a fire, St Paraschiva”s relics were moved to the new cathedral at Iași. Today you can visit St. Paraschiva in a dedicated chapel on the cathedral grounds.