Holy Martyr St. Photina was the very same Samaritan woman with whom the Lord
spoke at Jacob’s Well (see
John 4:5-42). During the reign of Emperor Nero (54-68), who showed
extraordinary cruelty in opposing Christianity, St. Photina lived in
Sebastian, Attalia’s city administrator, said to St.
Victor upon meeting him, “I have reliable information that you, your mother,
and your brother, are followers of the teachings of Christ.
However, I will give you some friendly advice: submit yourself to the
emperor’s will, and you will then get the property belonging to the Christians
you turn over to us. I will write to
your mother and brother, warning them not to openly preach Christ. Let them
confess their faith in secret.” St.
Victor answered, “I want to be a preacher of Christianity, just like my mother
and brother.” To this, Sebastian
responded, “O Victor, we all well know what travails await you, your mother,
and your brother, as a result.” Immediately after saying those words,
Sebastian felt a sharp pain in his eyes; his expression changed, and he was
three days, he lay blind and unable to speak a single word.
On the fourth day, he suddenly loudly exclaimed, “Only the Christian
faith is true; there is no other true faith!”
Finding St. Victor standing near him, Sebastian said, “Christ is
summoning me.” Soon thereafter, he
was baptized, and immediately regained his sight.
Witnessing that miracle, St. Sebastian’s servants followed their
Rumors of what had transpired reached Nero, and he ordered
that the Christians be brought to him in
Three years went by, and Nero sent for one of his
incarcerated servants. Messengers
reported to him that Saints Sebastian, Photinus, and Josiah, who had been
blinded, were completely well, and that a constant stream of visitors was coming
to listen to them preach. The prison
itself had turned into a bright and sweet-smelling place, where God was being
glorified. Then Nero ordered that
the saints be crucified, upside down, and that for three days their naked flesh
be beaten with belts. On the fourth
day, the emperor sent servants to see whether the martyrs were still alive.
However, immediately upon arriving at the place of torture, the servants
went blind. At the same time, an Angel of the Lord freed and healed the martyrs.
The saints took pity on the blinded servants, and through their prayers
to the Lord returned their sight to them. Regaining
their sight, the servants believed on Christ, and soon thereafter were baptized.
In impotent rage, Nero ordered that St. Photina be flayed
and her body thrown into a well. The
Martyrs Sebastian, Photinus, and Josiah had their legs severed below the knee,
their limbs thrown to the dogs, and then they also were flayed.
St. Photina’s sisters also had to endure terrible torments.
Nero ordered that their breasts be cut off, and then that they be flayed.
Trained in cruelties, the emperor prepared a most cruel death for St. Photida:
He ordered that her legs be tied to the tops of two trees that had been bent to
the ground; when they were released, the martyr was torn asunder.
He ordered the others to be beheaded.
St. Photina was pulled out of the well and incarcerated for 20 days.
Thereafter, Nero summoned her to him, and asked if she
would now submit to his will and offer sacrifice to the idols.
St. Photina spat in the emperor’s face, and laughing at him said,
“Most impious, blind, lost mad man! Can
you possibly think me so stupid that I would agree to renounce my Lord Christ
and offer sacrifice to idols as blind as you?!”
On hearing those words, Nero once again ordered that the martyr be thrown into the well, where she gave up her soul to the Lord (+66 AD).
Icons of St.Photina, St.Sebastian and St.Kyriake fm www.pravoslavie.ru