1. Our Holy Mother Petka (Paraskeva).
This glorious saint was of Serbian birth, from the town of Epibata, between Silinaurius and Constantinople. St Petka's parents were wealthy and devout Christians, and had one son, Euthymius, who became a monk during his parents' lifetime and later became Bishop of Madytos. After her parents' death, the maiden Petka, always desirous of the ascetic life for the sake of Christ, left her home and went first to Constantinople and then to the Jordan wilderness, where she lived to old age in asceticism. Who can describe all the labours, the sufferings, the temptations from demons that Petka endured for many years? In her old age, an angel of God appeared to her and said: 'Leave the wilderness and go back to your home.' St Petka obeyed the voice from heaven, left her beloved wilderness and returned to Epibata. She lived a further two years there, still in ceaseless fasting and prayer, and then gave her spirit into God's hands and went to join the company of Paradise. She entered into rest in the eleventh century. Her wonderworking relics were, in the course of time, taken to Constantinople, Trnovo, Constantinople again and Belgrade. They are now in Romania, in the town of Jassy. St Petka's spring is to be found in Belgrade. The waters miraculously heal all the sick who, with faith in God and love for this saint, hasten to ask her aid.
Author's note: In the Greek Synaxarion, there is recorded this miraculous happening with St Petka's help on the island of Chios in 1442: A hieromonk, Ambrose, was celebrating Vespers in the church of St Petka. No-one else was in the church. At the end of the service, rain suddenly began to pour down in torrents with a great roar, and this continued all night. Ambrose was unable to leave the church. Thinking that the island would be completely flooded by the storm, he began to pray to St Petka to save his homeland and soothe God's righteous anger. He had a dream at dawn and saw the church roofless, and, in the heights, a cloud of light within which stood the form of a beautiful woman in prayer to God. After her prayer, she said to the priest: 'Ambrose, don't be afraid; your homeland is saved.' And the rain stopped at once. From that time, the island of Chios has celebrated St Petka's day with great solemnity.
2. The Holy Martyrs Nazarius, Gervasius and Protasius.
Nazarius was born in Rome of a Jewish father and a Christian mother. His mother, Perpetua, was baptised by the Apostle Peter himself. Receiving his mother's faith, Nazarius of his own volition gave himself to the fulfilling of all the Church's precepts. Fearlessly preaching the Gospel, he went to Milan. There he found Gervasius and Protasius in prison, and ministered to them with great love. Discovering this, the local governor ordered that Nazarius be whipped and driven out of the city. His mother appeared to him in a vision and told him that he must go to Gaul (France) and preach the Gospel there, and Nazarius did so. After several years, Nazarius came again to Milan, now with the young Celsus, his disciple, whom he had baptised in Gaul. The brothers Gervasius and Protasius were still in prison, and Anulius the governor soon had Nazarius thrown in with them. Christ's martyrs rejoiced greatly at the providence of God that had brought them together again. The Emperor Nero ordered that Nazarius be killed, and the governor took him and Celsus out of prison and beheaded them. Gervasius and Protasius were also beheaded very soon after that by a General Astacius, who was passing through Milan to wage war against the Moravians. The general heard that these two brothers would not offer sacrifice to idols, and, being afraid that he might lose the war because of this, he ordered that they be beheaded at once. Gervasius and Protasius were twins, the sons of godly parents Vitalius and Valeria, who were also martyred for the Faith. The relics of St Nazarius were taken from a garden outside the city to the Church of the Holy Apostles by St Ambrose, and those of St Gervasius and St Protasius were revealed to him in a strange vision.