Monday, 20 March 2017

Springing up to Eternal Life

             ST PHOTINA'S DAY
MARCH 20th 2017


Today is St Photina's Day. Who, you might ask, is St Photina? Little known in the Western church, she is said to be, according to the Orthodox church, the woman who met Jesus at the well in John 4.

If you ever read the stories of Jesus in the Gospels, you might often be left wondering about what happened next?

When Jesus arrived at Photina's well, he was thirsty. He asked her for a drink. And out of that request came a most profound life-changing experience. 'Come and meet the man who told me everything I had ever done,' she tells all her neighbours and relatives. 

What happened next? She becomes a courageous teller of her story. 
Her story-telling courage led her to leave her home town (modern Nablus, in the West Bank) and all the way to Carthage, in Tunisia. There she came to the notice of the Roman authorities. She was eventually taken prisoner and taken to Rome, where, in AD64, she was martyred for her faith by Nero. Her way of life - which sprang from that encounter with a thirsty Jesus at the well - led to her death. Her death was by being thrown into a well.

The picture above is an Eastern orthodox icon. The cross-shaped well reflects the costliness of her life bound with the costly life-giving death of Jesus. 

I wonder, how many other unnamed women and men of the bible have stories that are known by our wise brothers and sisters from the Eastern church? Perhaps you would like to look for them!!


  1. I have also just realised that today is the 18th anniversary of my daughter's baptism. I wonder how the living waters of baptism will well up and brim over through her life? How wonderful it is to trust God for her flourishing.

  2. I've looked for one other woman and one man who are not named in the Gospels.

    According to Orthodox Wiki the unnamed woman with the haemorrhages is called Bernice who came to faith when Jesus healed her. Bernice is a Greek name and the Latin is Veronica. So Bernice, or Veronica, is also known as the woman who wiped Jesus’ face as he carried his cross to the place of crucifixion. As she did this, the face of Christ allegedly left a print of itself on her cloth which was later revered by believers.
    No one is certain of what happened to Veronica in her later years, though one story has it that she cured the Roman Emperor Tiberius of some kind of sickness using her cloth. Some sources say that she and her husband, named Zacchaeus, travelled all the way to Southern France confessing the Gospel. She has also been traditionally identified as Herod the Great’s niece.
    The Church celebrates her feast day on 12th July.

    Again, according to Orthodox Wiki, the unnamed penitent thief, who was crucified with Jesus is called Dismas. He was the thief who recognised Jesus’ innocence and asked him to remember him in his Kingdom. The other thief’s name, tradition says, is Gestas. The apocryphal Arabic Infancy Gospel calls the two thieves "Titus and Dumachus", and adds a tale about how Titus (the good one) prevented the other thieves in his company from robbing Mary and Joseph during their Flight into Egypt. In the Eastern Orthodox Church one of the hymns of Good Friday is entitled “The Good Thief” and speaks of how Christ granted Dismas Paradise.
    Dismas is commemorated on 25th March.

    It's interesting to read about who these people may or may not be, but how historically accurate these traditions are remain questionable. These people are interesting but reading about them does not change my life.
    What is common to those we have read about so far is the transforming encounter they had with Jesus. They all point to the person of Jesus, the healer, the fountain of life, the redeemer, and point us to his work of forgiveness, salvation, the giver of life.
    And there's the Gospel challenge. Do we only seek to point to Jesus, and live our lives only to his glory? Maybe we need not be concerned about being unnamed when it is the name of Jesus that is to be glorified.

  3. The unknown child in Matthew 18:2 is named as Ignatius iand is thought, later, to have become the bishop of Antioch. The children in the gospel of Mark who were rebuked when they spoke to Jesus were supposed to be Timothy and Titus, who also, later became bishops.

    The entry by FEE reminded me of 2Cor4:7
    "Yet we who have this spiritual treasure are like common clay pots, in order to show that the supreme power belongs to God, not to us."

    Since the main blog is about an eastern Orthodox saint, I decided to look up "Parumala Thirumeni", the first canonised Indian saint, also an eastern Orthodox saint. His name was Geevarghese Mar Gregorius, but is popularly known as "Parumala Thirumeni", translated as Bishop of Parumala.

    He was born to Kochu Mathai ( Little Mathew ) and Maryam in 1848. Maryam died when Geevarghese was little, so he was brought up by his eldest sister, and educated by his uncle, a scholar- priest, in the Orthodox church. By the time he was ten years old, Geevarghese was made deacon, at eighteen, a priest and by twenty eight, he became bishop. The Patriarch of Antioch, His Holiness Ignatius Peter IV chose Geevarghese to be his secretary and translator during his visit to Kerala in 1875. In 1876, he was ordained as bishop by the Patriarch. Being so young, he was called, " Kochu Thirumeni" or "Little Bishop". He established many churches and was instrumental, also, in establishing many educational institutions. He died aged fifty four of a stomach ulcer. Many miracles are attributed to " Parumala Thirumeni". He remains a much venerated saint in Kerala.