The Church of St. Paraskeva Pyatnitsa has a long and labor-intensive history. Starting as a small wooden building in the village of Manychskaya, the church was dedicated to The Great Martyr Paraskeva. The building itself has been rebuilt three times and was even moved from one bank of the Don to the other. It survived both World Wars, the USSR’s “Five-Year Plan of Godlessness,” looting, and even state-sanctioned arson.
Presently, the Church of St. Paraskeva Pyatnitsa is a part of the cultural heritage register of Russia, serving its parish as a fully functional Orthodox Church.
The Great Martyr: Saint Friday Friday
Named after The Great Martyr, St. Paraskeva Pyatnitsa; translated from the Greek, Paraskeva means “Friday,” and translated from the Russian, Pyatnitsa also means “Friday,” so her name can be translated to St. Friday Friday. She has also been called “Sveta Petka,” meaning “Holy Friday.” Her feast is celebrated on October 28, though she is worshipped every Friday.
A Timeline of the Church of St. Paraskeva Pyatnitsa
- 1748: The first mention of the church was recorded and described as a “dilapidated” wooden building on the right side of the Don, dedicated to the Great Martyr Paraskeva.
- 1805: By the late 1790s, the village of Manychskaya resettled on the left side of the Don due to a combination of population growth and a collapsing bank on the right side. The church was moved to the left, placed on a stone foundation, and covered in iron. The new building was consecrated in 1805.
- 1891: A parochial school was started.
- 1932: The Soviet Government’s “Five-Year Plan of Godlessness” ensued. Places of worship were closed across the Soviet Union.
- 1935: The Soviet government sold the church to the Red Army, and it was used as a granary until its official closure on June 1, 1936. Following its closure, the church was looted and set on fire.
- 1941: WWII led to a bombing in the Don area, Manychskaya used the church as a bomb shelter, and the church became active for the first time in nine years.
- 1943: The village was liberated from the Nazis, and restoration of the church began. Parishioners brought back artifacts from the church that they had kept hidden during the “Five-Year Plan of Godlessness” and Nazi occupation. It was registered again in 1945, and in 1955 its ownership was transferred to civil authorities who would not finance any renovations.
- 1990: Alexy II was made Patriarch of the Orthodox Church, plans for renovations were approved, allowing the church of St. Paraskeva Pyatnitsa to safely function once again.
- Cossack settlements on the Don existed from as early as 1592 to 1593.
- In the 1894 reconstruction of the church, the iconostasis was created by Italian, Sylvester Antonov Tonitto.
- Parishioners played a major role in all of the church’s rebuilds, both financially and physically.
- After the first rope burst, the church’s cross was allegedly hoisted by a rope made of silk shawls collected from the village’s women.