Photine was the Samaritan Woman who met Christ at Jacob's Well as recorded in the Gospel of St. John chapter 4. She told her neighbors that she had met the Christ, for which she is sometimes called the first person to proclaim the Gospel of Christ.
She was baptized at Pentecost and given the name 'Photine', which literally means "the enlightened one". She then began a missionary career, traveling far and wide, preaching the good news of the Messiah's coming, His death and resurrection. Photine was a significant figure in the early Christian community. The Samaritan Woman, like many other women, contributed to the early spread of Christianity. She therefore occupies a place of honor among the apostles. In sermons from the earliest centuries of the Church she is called "apostle" and "evangelist." In these sermons the Samaritan Woman is often compared to the male disciples and apostles and found to surpass them.
She converted her four sisters (Phota, Photis, Parasceva, and Cyriaca), and her sons (Victor and Joses), and all of them became tireless evangelists for Christ. After the martyrdom of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, she traveled to North Africa to proclaim the Gospel of Christ.
When Nero, the emperor of Rome, began to persecute Christians, Photine and her son Joseph were in Carthage preaching the Christian Gospel. After Jesus appeared to Photine in a dream, she sailed to Rome. Her son and many Christians from Africa accompanied her. Photine's arrival and activity aroused curiosity in the capital city. Everyone talked about her, "Who is this woman?" they asked. "She came here with a crowd of followers and she preaches Christ with great boldness."
Photine, with her sisters and sons, all met martyrdom under the persecutions of Emperor Nero. She is also commemorated on the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman during the Paschal season [this year Sunday 14 May] and on her feast day 26 February. She is popular among people of Middle East and in English her name is usually spelled Foutine. The Samaritan Woman conversed with Christ by the well of Jacob, near the city of Sychar. She drank of the "living water" and gained everlasting life and glory. For generation after generation, Orthodox Christians have addressed this prayer to the woman exalted by the Messiah when He sat by the well in Samaria and talked with her:
Illuminated by the Holy Spirit, All-Glorious One,
from Christ the Savior you drank the water of salvation.
With open hand you give it to those who thirst.
Great-Martyr Photine, Equal-to-the-Apostles,
pray to Christ for the salvation of our souls.
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