October 17, 2015
On Wednesday October 14, 2015 Orthodox Romanians celebrated the feast of their much-beloved St. Paraskeva the New of Iasi, whose relics have been there, working countless miracles, since 1641.
Thousands of faithful flocked to Iasi to be present at the outdoor liturgy celebrated by His Eminence Damaskinos, Archbishop of Jaffa and Arimathea, of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, together with more than twenty other hierarchs, reports Basilica.ro, the press agency of the Romanian Patriarchate. 15,000 were present at the stage where the Liturgy was held, and another 10,000 formed a line of several kilometers, reverently awaiting their opportunity to venerate the relics of their protectress, and also of St. Mary Magdalene and St. John Chrysostom, which were also present.
Blessed St. Paraskeva and St. Mary Magdalene teach us that through faith man can acquire eternal joy and life. St John Chrysostom, declared by the Holy Synod (of the Romanian Orthodox Church) as a protector of this year, speaking on the faith and piety of the myrrh-bearing women exclaims: “Look at the women who suffered together with Christ, who had cried next to Him, behold how great their perseverance is! They were the first ones to see Him risen from the dead, and this feminine generation, which had been blamed until then, was the first to receive the joy of perceiving the celestial goods. The Disciples ran away, but the women remained.” The presence in Romania of the relics of St Mary Magdalene, brought to Iași from Simonopetra Monastery of Mount Athos, which had been restored by the Romanian ruler Prince Michael the Brave, strengthens the relation between the Romanian holy places and the holy places all over the world.
Following the Divine Liturgy, His Eminence Metropolitan Teofan of Moldova and Bukovina called upon the people to always remember that what God does, He does for our benefit:
Our first and last gratitude is addressed to these wonderful blessed countenances full of patience, of perseverance and, above all, full of faith in God and love towards His saints. You support the Church, the people, and the entire world; May god protect you all so that you will return to your homes with the countenances of St. Paraskeva, St. Mary Magdalene, Equal-to-the-Apostles, and St. John Chrysostom, with their blessing and the icons containing their faces, with their presence in your hearts, and the blessing of their intercession. May you depart having the joy that you also participated in this year’s great feast of St. Paraskeva! Returning at home, remind those who couldn’t be present together with us how good the Lord is, the Lord you have felt in Iași during these days.
Elsewhere, at the Patriarchal Cathedral in Bucharest, the Divine Liturgy was celebrated by His Grace Varlaam of Ploiesti, Basilica.ro reports. In his sermon, His Grace depicted the life of St. Paraskeva as one fulfilling the commandments of Christ:
This parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins has been chosen to be read on the feast of such saints because no one more closely resembles the wise virgins from the Gospel of our Savior Jesus Christ like these saints. That is why, when we commemorate our most merciful mother St. Paraskeva of Iaşi we again hear this Gospel reading, because St Paraskeva fulfilled in her life the purpose of these wise virgins of the Gospel, namely she took care since childhood, in a state of permanent vigilance, to keep the candle of her soul burning, a candle of faith, of labors, a candle of love for her neighbors.
He also emphasized that she followed Christ from her childhood:
St. Parakeva remains a model for us regardless of our age, because we can see that she followed Christ since childhood, and although she died young, at the age of 27, she lived as a true saint who loved God with all her heart, offering and dedicating her entire life to Him. We see that this is often found throughout history. Many young people similar to her, coming from rich families, youth having a social, cultural, and political career forsake the world in order to dedicate themselves to God in a life of vigilance and labor.
St. Paraskeva’s relics have also resided in Bulgaria, Serbia, and Constantinople, and she is greatly loved throughout the Balkans and the entire Orthodox world.