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March 20

Saint of the day:

Saint Photina

which means enlighten one, Greek word "phos" meaning "light"

Saint Photina’s Story

Samaritan martyr. According to Greek tradition, Photiona was the Samaritan woman with whom Jesus spoke at the well as was recounted in the Gospel of St. John, chapter four. Deeply moved by the experience, she took to preaching the Gospel, received imprisonment, and was finally martyred at Carthage. Another tradition states that Photina was put to death in Rome after converting the daughter of Emperor Nero and one hundred of her servants. She supposedly died in Rome with her sons Joseph and Victor, along with several other Christians, including Sebastian, Photius, Parasceve, Photis, Cyriaca, and Victor. They were perhaps included in the  Roman Martyrology by Cardinal Cesare Baronius owing to the widely held view that the head of Photina was preserved in the church of St. Paul's Outside the Walls.

Photina (which means enlighten one) was the baptismal name given after her encounter with Christ.  However, you probably know her as the Samaritan from the well from John 4: 5-42.    After her conversion and baptism, she spread the Word of God across the land and was a very influential evangelist.  Tradition has her in Carthage, Africa before coming to Rome with her 5 sisters and 2 sons by order of the Emperor Nero who wanted her executed for her faith.  Before his soldiers could find her and bring her to the emperor, Photina and her family sought out Nero and actually asked him to convert to Christianity.

Well, that didn’t go well and Nero proceeded to imprison and torture Photina and her family.  He started with 3-hour beatings of their hands with iron rods, of which they felt no pain, before moving on to tempting them with gold and jewels.  Next, Nero sent his own daughter (accompanied by her slaves) to try and talk to them. Photina ended up converting and baptized the daughter and all 100 slaves. Once Nero heard this he ordered to have them burned. However, after 7 days in the fires of the oven, they emerged unscathed.

Nero proceeded to send them back to prison for 3 more years and proceeded to tortured them in every way imaginable.  Again, the torture had no effect. Finally, Nero had enough and beheaded everyone but Photina.  After spending days alone and asking God to take her, Nero had her bound and thrown down a well, where she surrendered her to soul God.

Saint Photini.jpg




The Orthodox church of Jacob's Well, also known as St. Photini's, in the city of Nablus on the West Bank. The current church is the fifth structure to stand over the site, which has been venerated by Christians as the Well of Jacob since the fourth century.

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