Mar 20th - Photina (of Rome)
Photina (Φωτεινη - root of our word "photon"), as her name implies, is one of light, or more exactly an enlightened one. We do not know much about her except what we think we know about a woman whose name we really do not know. Photina is the name given to the Woman at the Well of John 4. It makes sense after you read the story that no matter what her name was before she met Jesus, like many who are transformed by him, including Simon and Saul, she has a new name afterwards.
In the East, known for its wonderful titles, she is known as "the holy and glorious Great-martyr Photine of Samaria, Equal-to-the-Apostles." Equal because of the meaning of "apostle" (ἀποστόλων): "messenger, one who is sent". She runs from her encounter with Jesus and spreads the news of the Messiah. She leads others to Jesus who then eventually proclaim that “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.” (John 4:42) Truly she is "Equal-to-the-Apostles." Truly she was enlightened.
Tradition (East and West) has her eventually ending up in Rome and dying there in the persecution of Nero. In the West, therefore, she is celebrated as "of Rome".
No matter what, all of us can claim ownership of her, as long as we emulate her and evangelize, sharing Christ with everyone we meet so that they too may come to believe in their own right. Let us ask her guidance and support in our efforts.
The woman left her water jar and went into the town and said to the people, “Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Messiah?” They went out of the town and came to him.
...Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me everything I have done.” When the Samaritans came to him, they invited him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. Many more began to believe in him because of his word, and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”
-- John 4:29-30, 39-42
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