St Paraskeva

Four martyrs with the name of Paraskeva were worshipped in the Byzantine-Slavonic world – the Roman St Paraskeva (2nd century, 26 July/8 August); St Paraskeva from Sicily (3rd century, 28 October/10 November); St Paraskeva (20 March/2 April); and St Paraskeva from the Balkans, popularly known as “Petka” (11th century, 14/27 October). The worship of the first two saints was much more widespread and soon merged into one single image of St Paraskeva.

St Paraskeva (Greek: Friday) was born on a Friday and died on a Friday – the same day on which Jesus Christ was crucified. The saint is closely linked to Good Friday and Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, as well as the Virgin Mary grieving at the foot of the cross.

St Paraskeva (28 October/10 November) was martyred during the reign of Emperor Diocletian (284–305), which witnessed the last major persecution of the Christians. She is considered the patron saint of agriculture, family prosperity and trade in Russia.

Waist-length or full-length images of St Paraskeva in a red head-dress with a cross, sometimes holding alabaster, were popular in Russia, particularly in the Novgorod school of icon-painting. Shoulder-length representations of the saint are a rare iconographic version.

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