Orthodox America

  St. Photina

Commemorated March 20  

            Among those saints whom the Church recognizes as particularly powerful intercessors against the demon of lust are St. Mary of Egypt, St. Basil of Mangazeya, St. John the Much-suffering of the Kiev Caves, St. Moses the Hungarian, Virgin-Martyr Zlata and St. Photina (in Russian, Svetlana).


            St. Photina was that Samaritan woman whom our Lord met at Jacob’s Well.  When He disclosed the secret of her profligate life, she believed in Him at once as that Messiah which was to come, and began spreading the Gospel among the Samaritans, converting many.  Later, she and her son Josiah and her five sisters went to Carthage to preach and then to Rome.  Another son, Victor, was a soldier and had already come to Emperor Nero’s attention as being a Christian.  The Emperor summoned the whole family and with threats and tortures tried to force them to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ.  Meanwhile, when Nero’s daughter Domnina came in contact with Photina (the Lord Himself had given her the name, meaning “resplendent” or “shining with light”), she, too, was converted.  The enraged emperor had the heads of the sons and sisters cut off; Photina was held in prison for a few more weeks before being thrown into a well, where she joyously gave her soul to the Lord. 

Illumined by the Holy Spirit, and refreshed by  the streams of Christ the Saviour, O all-lauded one, thou didst drink the water of salvation and didst give abundantly to them that were athirst.  O great martyr and peer of the Apostles, holy Photina, do thou entreat Christ God that our souls be saved.