Orthodox America

  St. Petca-Parasceva

October 14

        Saint Petca Parasceva the New of Bulgaria, a truly great and famous saint among women, was born in a village of Thrace (on the north shore of the Sea of Marmara). Her parents were wealthy landowners of the nobility, whose rank in society was equalled by their devotion tothe Church. After baptizing their daughter, the parents taught her every virtue and conduct after God's laws.

       When the girl was ten years of age she went with her mother into the Church of the Holy Theotokos where she heard these words from the Gospel: "Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow Me." The words became imprinted on her heart, and she was inspired to make a habit of dressing poor people in her expensive clothes. Although her parents were Christian, they were aggravated by such behavior; perhaps they found their daughter's generosity extreme and beyond their comprehension. They tried to discourage her practice and went so far as to use threats and even beat her. Then, still quite young, Petca left everything-- parents, relatives, servants--and went to Constantinople where her soul delighted in the spiritual treasures of the capital: its beautiful churches, precious relics of numerous saints, and the prayers and blessings of the hermits.

       From there she journeyed to Chalcedon and then to Heraclea Pontica on the Black Sea. Her parents went from place to place, from city to city in search of her, but they were unable to locate her and returned home alone in great sorrow. Meanwhile, the Saint lived at the church of the Most Holy Theotokos in Heraclea Pontica and rejoiced spiritually, prostrating herself to the ground and wetting it with her tears.

      There she remained for five years, practicing every kind of virtue: prayers, vigils, all-night standings, prolonged fasting, sighs, tears and lying on the naked ground. And who could tell the purity of her heart? Or who could imagine the humility of her character and mind? In her prayers she would often see the Mother of God to aid her in making the journey to Jerusalem, for she desired to behold the sacred sites, and leaving the temple, she departed for the Holy City.

     After delighting herself in the sanctity of the holy places where the most pure feet of the Lord had stepped, she flew from there like a bird and came to the Jordanian desert where she found a convent which she joined. And how many valiant spiritual deeds she performed there, by which she completely defeated the devil who fought against her using all sorts of strategies and temptations.

    While in the convent the Blessed One had very little spring water for drink, a mat for a bed, and a very poor cassock. Her tears flowed continuously while in her heart there bloomed the love for God and her fellowmen. The crown of her virtues was humility. She remained in this convent for several years.

     At the age of 25 she left the desert and, after considerable journeying, during which she again visited Constantinople, she settled in a village called Katikratia. There she stayed for two years at the church of the Holy Apostles. And here the Blessed One gave up her holy soul into the arms of the angels and made a final journey--to her eternal home.

    Many years passed. A Christian who spent his whole life in vice died and was buried near the grave of the Saint. She appeared in a dream to a God-loving monk and said to him: "Take that stinky corpse away from me. I am light and sun, and I cannot bear to have near me darkness and stench." She repeated this three times, strictly instructing the monk and pointing out to him the place with her finger. When the monk got up, he told his dream to the Christians nearby, and they started digging at the place indicated by the Saint. When they approached the remains of the Saint, they discovered that they were filled with a spiritual fragrance. Her relies, whole and incorrupt, were lifted out and reverently transferred into the divine church of the Holy Apostles with much incense and chanting of psalms.

      It is difficult to describe how many miracles the wonderful God performed and continues to perform through these relics; they heal the lame, the dumb, the paralyzed, invalids and anyone who is suffering from any kind of deadly disease.

       At first her holy and miraculous relics were in Belgrade, as long as it was under Serbian rule. But after the infidels [Turks] took Belgrade, the relics were transferred to Constantinople, from where they were transferred to Yassyin Moldavia [Romania] in the following way:

      In 1641 , during the time of Patriarch Parthenius the Old of Constantinople (1639-1644 and of the Moldavian Prince Vasily Voevod, the Patriarchate of Constantinople found itself in great financial need. The Patriarch arranged with Prince Basil to give him the relics of St. Petca in return for a sum of money. He lowered the holy relics over the fortified wall of Phanar  and they were secretly transported to Jassy. There they were placed in the monastery of the Three Hierarchs where they are tothisday, and where they work a multitude of miracles to the glory of God and to the honor of His Saint. 

 [1]. St. Nicodemos the Naziafire omits the time when the relics were transferred from Kalikratia to the capital of Tirnovsky in BuIgaria, where they lay for 155 years before they were transferred to Serbia.

[2]        Phanar is a district in Constantinople where the Patriarchate is located.     

(Prom a translation by Boris Svrakov of Zhtia na Bulgarski Svetsi by Bishop Parthenii, Synodal Publications, Sofia, 1979