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140 A.D. - 180 A.D. : Jesus Sends A Girl Named Friday To Astonish the Romans 

 

 

  An artist's depiction of Paraskevi, a Christian woman given remarkable gifts!

 

A very charitable and loving, yet childless Greek couple - Agathon and Politia - immigrated to near Rome in Italy. They were said to be devout Christians, and they had prayed patiently for a long time to Yahweh and Jesus for a child that they could raise to God's glory. In seeming answer, Politia became pregnant, and on a certain Friday they received a daughter through Politia's pain and labor. They gave her the name Paraskevi, which relates to the 'day of preparation' for the Sabbath, as in Friday. In their Greek language her name meant 'Friday.'

 

  She grew up loved and taught of Jesus, nurtured on His teachings. It was said of her that it was her parents' living breathing example more than their teaching that assured her that she too would devote herself to Christ. She grew up beautiful and full of grace. There were said to be a good number of marriage proposals as she grew to womanhood, but she was interested in another life - she was determined to be a bride of Jesus.

 

  Her parents both died in the same year and she received an inheritance.  She distributed part of it to the poor, and with the other portion she created a house of prayer for virgins who wished to devote themselves to Christ. She dwelt there until she was about 30 years old working to form a group of devout and virtuous women highly dedicated to God and Jesus.

 

  There came a time of heavy persecution in the area of Rome. The Emperor - Antonius Pius - was not personally very much inclined to trouble the Christians. He was actually later to be remembered as one of the '5 good Emperors', a successive group of Emperors who ruled relatively well by later Roman opinion.  Yet hard times and unfavorable events had come to the Roman Empire and many blamed it on Christians, reasoning that they had lost the favor of the Roman 'gods' because this Jesus was increasingly worshiped in their stead.  And so Pius supported laws aimed at punishing Christians or other repudiators of or challengers to the old Roman 'gods'. He did, however, allow that Christians be tried in a relatively lawful manner when charges were brought against them, to establish that they were truly followers of Jesus before punishing them. Yet a great many Christians would not recant when questioned or even tortured, and so many Christians were killed during this period.

 

  It came to pass that Paraskevi had gone out to travel and preach during this time period, and miracles abounded around her teaching such that she drew great attention. Of course such a high profile was dangerous at that time.  Soon she was taken into custody and brought before the Emperor.

 

  Emperor Antonius Pius beheld her and was smitten. She was both beautiful and spiritually graced, and highly desireable in his eyes. He tried to convince her to abandon her faith and in fact he even offered to take her as his wife.  A woman could not be offered a much higher position than this from the world's point of view.  Yet she refused, explaining that she was dedicated to Jesus as to a husband, and that she could not and would not forsake her complete belief in Him. She would prefer to endure the punishment rather than recant of her love for Christ.

 

   Emperor Antonius may have been stung and angry at this affront to his dignity, or perhaps he merely continued with the efforts to change her mind.  He ordered her to be tortured. She was taken away, praying to God for strength with which to face her coming trials. They included hanging her by her hair. They put fire to her limbs to burn them. They apparently roughed her up pretty severely, but it did not cause her to recant.

 

  So, she was then brought out to the Emperor again. She still would not recant of being a follower of her Lord Jesus. They then decided to use a metal helmet on her which had been fashioned for torture. It had many nails driven in towards its center, and they forced this onto her head and then had it bent inward so that the the nails penetrated her head - to what depth I could not determine from what I read.  But this did not seem to greatly phase her, she still refused to forsake Jesus, and also she seemed strangely unaffected by the intended pains of the helmet.  And so many who saw this came to believe a great power protected her.

 

  They brought her out again before the Emperor who had apparently lost patience with her at that point.  He had her placed into a large kettle of oil and tar, a kettle created for torture.  Beneath it they built a hot fire, and she was 'cooked' as people watched.  Yet though the flames rose beneath the kettle and the liquid in the kettle became hot and then boiled and began to smoke and bubble, it is recorded that she was protected and did not feel it. Nor did it seem to physically affect her elsewise.

 

  After a time, when she appeared more to be comfortable rather than boiled alive, the Emperor approached the kettle incredulously and asked of her if she was using some sort of witchcraft or sorcery to keep the oil from becoming hot. Accounts vary as to what exactly happened next. Some say that there was then a bubbling eruption of extremely hot oil which splashed into the Emperors face. Others say that she cupped some of the oil in her hand and cast it into his face. In either event, the boiling oil splashed into his eyes and seared them, and he lost his vision. His eyes were badly burned.

 

  Devastated by his calamity the blinded Emperor cried out to her begging her to ask her God to heal him. She was moved to mercy and prayed out to Jesus that the Emperor's eyes might be healed and his vision restored. This immediately occurred, and the Emperor was both overjoyed and deeply rebuked and humbled. He had her helped out of the kettle of boiling oil, and all who were there saw that she was unburned. The Emperor immediately released her, and he ceased enforcing the edict of persecution against Christians as well.

 

  Freed now to move about the area unhindered, Paraskevi went from town to town teaching and preaching during the remaining reign of the now somewhat reformed Emperor Antonius Pius. She reached many people with Jesus' meassage, and was known for the great miracles which surrounded her talk of Jesus. But all good things seem to come to an end.

 

  Emperor Pius' rein ended and he was replaced by Emperor Marcus Aurelius.  Aurelius would eventually be viewed - through a patriotic Roman lense - as the last of the so named '5 Good Emperors', doing much to attempt to restore the status of Rome and to re-strengthen that challenged empire's might and fortune. But, as before, there were times of trouble in the empire, and again it was blamed upon Christians by many.  They still saw the rapid rise of belief in worship of Yahweh and Christ alone as being the cause of the anger of their old 'gods', who felt displaced and disrespected they supposed. And so Marcus Aurelius reinstated edicts against practicing Christianity, and again Christians were tortured and killed for their beliefs.

 

  In those times, while traveling and speaking in a city governed by a man named Asclepius, Paraskevi stirred up the local authorities against herself, and again was taken into custody. It was determined that she should be thrown into a pit with a large serpent, there to die. But in the pit she was seen to make the sign of the cross over this serpent, and in some ancient accounts it says that the serpent was cloven in two (as if by an unseen sword, I gathered) and in other accounts it merely says the after making the sign of the cross the serpent died or did no harm to her.  It is not much unlike the time Daniel spent in the lion's den!

 

  But in either case it was agreed that the people were greatly impressed by what they saw, and the city's governor Asclepius was sufficiently impressed that he ordered her drawn out of the pit and released with her freedom restored. Again it was obvious that a powerful force gaurded her, and more people put faith in Christ because of this wonderfully protected and greatly blessed woman.

 

  Finally, in a different city, an official named Taracius arrested her for spreading the Gospel, and he resorted to a torture which had already failed to work: he had her placed in a container of tar and oil to be boiled. It is quite possible that he had heard of the previous incident and perhaps wished to set the record straight or maybe he wanted to satisfy his own curiosity.

 

  As people looked on it was soon discovered that you could still not burn this woman of God with boiling oil and tar. Jesus was her Lord, she was trusting in Him, and the wet boiling concoction of tar and oil simply could not harm her body. She showed no recorded discomfort in the container. Taracius had her removed, yet unlike Emperor Pius he did not take a lesson from what he had seen, but instead had her beaten and then ordered a large rock to be placed on her chest during the night, a torture designed to create terrible desperate panic, thinking perhaps she would recant then. But she prayed to the Lord Jesus for strength,and she endured the crushing weight as best she was able.

 

  The next day the rock was lifted, and the woman was raised up and led to a nearby temple of Apollo to be given a chance to render her worship to that false deity. It was noted by onlookers that she allowed herself to be led there without protest, visibly weak and worn out. Those watching praised Taracius, for his plans had worked and they saw that he had broken her, and she entered into this temple dedicated to 'Apollo' without resistance.

 

  But once she was entered into the temple she raised her head, and again she made the mighty sign of the cross. And throughout that pagan temple the idolotrous statues and symbols placed there shattered and fell destroyed.  The people saw this happen to the likenesses associated with their 'gods', and again the power of Christ caused wonder. But the priests of the temple cried out angrily that she must die. Taracius eventually bowed to their demands, and she was taken outside of that city by soldiers and her head was decapitated, ending her life on earth. She was a powerfully used woman of faith, a soldier of Christ, and she had not shrunk back in the face of danger or torture, not even to end her pain or save her life.

 

  She was of the Roman area, and became a Saint in the Roman Catholic Church, but she is also a Saint of the Orthodox Church, who likewise found the evidence for the claims of her various deeds through Christ to be verifiably substantiated by sufficient witnesses.  To make claims on her behalf that she had changed the ways and opinions of the Roman Emperor Pius himself would have been a very difficult event to have falsified convincingly.  In our time, considering what was believed true of her in her time, she seems by a reasonable level of inferred evidence to truly have been one of God's greater servants in terms of miracles surrounding her ministry.

 

  And, her name is used in prayer even today by some, especially when praying for the healing of the eyes. She has become a 'patron Saint of Eye Health' for having restored the sight of that long ago Roman Emperor Pius when she prayed to Jesus.  And perhaps there were more incidents concerning eyes.

 

  And in fact, just in these last years, there have been reported healings associated with her name even in the United States where I reside.  In November 11th of 2013, for a particular instance, there was a case (and so far the claim seems pretty convincing!) of a blind man named Michael whose sight was restored immediately and miraculously in a Greek Orthodox Church on Green Lawn, Long Island, New York, a church called 'the St. Paraskevi Greek Orthodox Shrine Church' whose Priest is named Dimitrios Moraitus.

 

  This church has a pool containing some water brought from far away Greece (mixed in with their own local Long Island water) in a sort of a fountain and pool. The water was brought from a Christian shrine in Greece specifically dedicated to this holy woman named Paraskevi. And just think, she is passed away more than 1800 years now, yet by the report of some who are hopefully honest minded Christians, her name can sometimes be mentioned in prayer to Jesus for the healing of eye problems, and those prayers then sometimes are attended with miraculous healings.

You can go to http://www.ancientfaith.com and look under their 'specials' section (at least it is posted as I write this!) and look for a piece titled 'Once I was blind' to hear their account of Michael's healing.  

 

  But, to end this account, let's remember that we pray to Jesus, to the Father through Jesus, in the Holy Spirit to Jesus, Jesus who is our given Lord and the Son of God made into flesh. As it says in 1st Corinthians, all authority is given by the Father to Jesus that He will merely turn around, once all is subject to Him, and give it back to His Father so that the Father may be all in all.  But as for us Christians, we do not pray 'to' saints, who would have only the power that Christ allows them. Jesus is our Lord. It is He who died for our sins. The saints are our blessed fellow imperfects, yet found worthy through their faith and often through their attempt to live holy lives, to acheive great things which it pleased the Lord to allow them to achieve.  We see when we read the scriptures that Apostles, even angels, refuse any sort of worship or prayer to themselves, always making it clear that they are only servants.  Angels in scripture sometimes stop men and tell them that they are only fellow servants, and that men are to worship God alone. 

 

  Yet, it cannot be denied that where the names of some who are 'saints' are associated with prayer to Jesus there have often been reports of miracles involving what only the power of Yahweh can accomplish.....things such as the healing and reforming of ruined flesh, for instance. So, ....let us walk cautiously in this area. That is probably good advice! But if God chooses to magnify their name somewhat after their death, it is His perogative to do so ever and always. 

  Yet stay vigilant that someone who is misled does not use our credulence of Christ's power, expressed through the men and women that He uses as willing tools, to lead us to the worshiping of men. Not even Saints. We worship a single God who has shown Himself to be God through three varying aspects of His own self: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus acknowledged His Father, prayed to His Father, and acknowledged His Father to be greater than He. Yet He also said that if we had seen Him, we had seen the Father. The Father spoke to Jesus, and spoke out loud from the heavens about Jesus, even calling Him His son. 

  And Jesus spoke of how His death would allow for the sending of the Holy Spirit. When baptized by John the Baptist the Gospels record that the Holy Spirit came down upon Jesus and entered Him. And the Holy Spirit is referred to as 'the Holy Spirit of God'. So God the Father has a Son that He can send out to the world, whilst He remains. And God has a Holy Spirit which He can send out, while He remains. And scripture in the Bible tells us that both the Holy Spirit and Jesus acknowledge each other, beneath the Father, yet are also a part of the Father. So, though it is too deep for us to fully understand at this time, and perhaps ever, we worship a God of three parts, with the Holy Father being the holiest and greatest part as Jesus readily acknowledged, yet we never worship other men or women. We remember the deeds done through Spirit filled Christians, but never worship them.  We have never been told to do that. Even the Apostles would not allow themselves to be worshiped. Even the faithful angels of God will not allow men to worship them, and the least of all heavenly beings is mightier than the mightiest of humankind Jesus told us, though all faithful angels kneel - as the Father apparently expects them to - at the name of Jesus, who is 'the Holy One of God' though He came down for a time to live among us as a man of flesh. 

  A lot to think about, admittedly. Yet we're off the hook when it comes to being powerful thinkers. Our job isn't to be powerful thinkers but instead to love God with all our strength, our heart, our mind, and our soul, and love our neighbor as ourself. That is also a pretty intense job, about as much as anyone could ever handle I feel convinced.  But this woman Friday...she loved God greatly, and was 'faithful unto death' as they say.  So, I salute her courageous service to God, and I hope that I - that any of us - can imitate it if the challenge were to come upon us.  And it surely may come...it surely may.

 

©2011 Daniel Curry & 'Deeds of God' Website