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Saint Petka

Saint Petka is also known as Saint Parascheva of the Balkans or Saint Paraskeva of the Balkans (Παρασκευὴ ἡ Ἐπιβατινή in ancient Greek, Света Петка in Serbian). Born sometime in the 11th century, Saint Petka was born in the town of Epivates near Constantinople and on the shore of the sea of Marmara to a wealthy landowning Byzantine family. As a child during mass, she heard the words of Christ come to her:

"Whoever wants to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."

Determined to follow in the words and orders of Christ, she gave away the very rich clothes she had with her to the poor and fled to Constantinople. Her parents did not approve of her wishing to leave the wealthy life behind and chased after her. She first fled to Chalcedon, then spent five years at the church of the Most Holy Theotokos in Heraclea Pontica. It was here she had an appearance of the Virgin Mary, who told her she she leave the church and visit Jerusalem. She followed this command and settled for many years in an convent near the river Jordan. At this convent, she had a vision of an Angel who commanded her to return to her homeland, the town of Constantinople.

At the age of 25, she obliged and lived at the Church of the Holy Apostles in the town of Kallikrateia for two years. For those two years she lived in ceaseless fasting and prayer, giving her soul to the Lord at the age of 27.

Many years after her death, a monk had a vision of Saint Petka who told him where her body was. He was directed to move the body because she had been buried next to a sinner and she could no longer bear his darkness. When the monk dug, he found her body and found that not only was it incorrupt, it also carried the Odor of Sanctity. Her remains where moved into his church, to the Balkans, and then back to Constantinople before being moved to Lasi in Romania. The remains are a major pilgrimage spot for members of the Orthodox Church to this very day.

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