This coming weekend, Iasi will become Romania’s religious capital, given the celebration of Saint Parascheva, whose holy relics are deposited at the ‘Trei Ierarhi Cathedral.’ Over a million believers from Romania and abroad are expected to attend this year the religious ceremonies dedicated to Saint Parasheva. From Thursday and until Monday, the relics of Saint Parascheva will be placed on the Cathedral’s esplanade, to be venerated by the faithful. On Friday, they will be carried by the hierarch and local authorities in a procession on the city streets. This is obviously one of the most popular Christian holidays in Romania, especially that Parascheva is considered Moldavia’s patron saint.
The Holy Pious Parascheva was born at Epivat, at the Sea Shore, in a very rich Christian family. At the age of 10, while attending a liturgy, she heard the words of Jesus: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Although very young, Saint Parascheva decides to translate the words of the Gospel into practice, reason for which she decides to give all her earthly possessions to the needy. After a short while, she retired to solitude to dedicate her life to praying and fasting, then, she went back to her home place where she erected a monastery. Hundreds of years after her death, her corpse was not decayed and smelled of chrism. Its condition seen as a sign from God, the saint’s body was taken to the Saint Apostles Church of Epivat, where it was deposited for two centuries. Throughout that time, the chronicles mention that her grave witnessed many a miracles for those that called for her help.
In 1521, the holy relics got to Constantinople, Prince Vasile Lupu bought them for a large amount of money, with approval from Sultan Murad IV. Vasile Lupu brought the relics at the newly built Trei Ierarhi Church. They were deposited in a valuable coffin. According to historical documents, the relics of Saint Parascheva were sneaked off across the walls of the Constantinople, in order not to break Islamic law, which banned the transport of dead persons, save for sultans. Despite it, Turkish authorities volunteered to provide military guarding up to Iasi, where the relics were handed over during a grand religious ceremony and deposed in the cathedral. In 1881, a fire burned the interior of the church and the coffin to ashes, yet the body remained intact. The October 10, 1955, the meeting of the Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church, which was attended by leaders of Churches in Constantinople, Bulgaria and Russia, officially recognized the worshipping of Saint Parascheva. Some of her relics are deposed at the Holy Saint Parascheva Church in Bucharest’s Basarab area, near the Bucharest North railway Station. That church will also be the place for significant religious processions.
Saint Parascheva celebrated in Iasi Bucharest Daily News– October 13, 2006 by George Grigoriu
Over a million faithful from Romania and abroad are expected to attend the event.