SUNDAY OF THE SAMARITAN WOMAN
Sunday of the Samaritan Woman, Isidore the Martyr of Chios, Holy Hieromartyr Therapontus, Holy New Martyrs Mark and John, Leontius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, Serapion the Holy Martyr
ACTS OF THE APOSTLES 11:19-30
In those days, those apostles who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to none except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number that believed turned to the Lord. News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad; and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose; for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a large company was added to the Lord. So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul; and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church, and taught a large company of people; and in Antioch the disciples were for the first time called Christians. Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. And one of them named Agabos stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world; and this took place in the days of Claudius. And the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brethren who lived in Judea, and they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.
At that time, Jesus came to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there, and so Jesus, wearied as he was with his journey, sat down beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.
There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?" For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink, ' you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." The woman said to him, "Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?" Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.
Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here." The woman answered him, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, 'I have no husband'; for you have had five husbands, and he whom you now have is not your husband; this you said truly." The woman said to him, "Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain; and you say that Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship." Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." The woman said to him, "I know that the Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ); when he comes, he will show us all things." Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am he.
Just then his disciples came. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but none said, "What do you wish?" or, "Why are you talking with her?" So the woman left her water jar, and went away into the city and said to the people, "Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?" They went out of the city and were coming to him.
Meanwhile the disciples besought him, saying "Rabbi, eat." But he said to them, "I have food to eat of which you do not know." So the disciples said to one another, "Has anyone brought him food?" Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work. Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, then comes the harvest'? I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see how the fields are already white for harvest. He who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, 'One sows and another reaps.' I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.
Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman's testimony. "He told me all that I ever did." So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, "It is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard ourselves, and we know that this is indeed Christ the Savior of the world.
Sunday of the Samaritan Woman
The Holy Martyr Photina (Svetlana) the Samaritan Woman, her sons Victor (named Photinus) and Joses; and her sisters Anatola, Phota, Photis, Paraskevḗ, Kyriake; Nero’s daughter Domnina; and the Martyr Sebastian: The holy Martyr Photina was the Samaritan Woman, with whom the Savior conversed at Jacob’s Well (John. 4:5-42).
During the time of the emperor Nero (54-68), who displayed excessive cruelty against Christians, Saint Photina lived in Carthage with her younger son Joses and fearlessly preached the Gospel there. Her eldest son Victor fought bravely in the Roman army against barbarians, and was appointed military commander in the city of Attalia (Asia Minor). Later, Nero called him to Italy to arrest and punish Christians.
Sebastian, an official in Italy, said to Saint Victor, “I know that you, your mother and your brother, are followers of Christ. As a friend I advise you to submit to the will of the emperor. If you inform on any Christians, you will receive their wealth. I shall write to your mother and brother, asking them not to preach Christ in public. Let them practice their faith in secret.”
Saint Victor replied, “I want to be a preacher of Christianity like my mother and brother.” Sebastian said, “O Victor, we all know what woes await you, your mother and brother.” Then Sebastian suddenly felt a sharp pain in his eyes. He was dumbfounded, and his face was somber.
For three days he lay there blind, without uttering a word. On the fourth day he declared, “The God of the Christians is the only true God.” Saint Victor asked why Sebastian had suddenly changed his mind. Sebastian replied, “Because Christ is calling me.” Soon he was baptized, and immediately regained his sight. Saint Sebastian’s servants, after witnessing the miracle, were also baptized.
Reports of this reached Nero, and he commanded that the Christians be brought to him at Rome. Then the Lord Himself appeared to the confessors and said, “Fear not, for I am with you. Nero, and all who serve him, will be vanquished.” The Lord said to Saint Victor, “From this day forward, your name will be Photinus, because through you, many will be enlightened and will believe in Me.” The Lord then told the Christians to strengthen and encourage Saint Sebastian to peresevere until the end.
All these things, and even future events, were revealed to Saint Photina. She left Carthage in the company of several Christians and joined the confessors in Rome.
At Rome the emperor ordered the saints to be brought before him and he asked them whether they truly believed in Christ. All the confessors refused to renounce the Savior. Then the emperor gave orders to smash the martyrs’ finger joints. During the torments, the confessors felt no pain, and their hands remained unharmed.
Nero ordered that Saints Sebastian, Photinus and Joses be blinded and locked up in prison, and Saint Photina and her five sisters Anatola, Phota, Photis, Paraskevḗ and Kyriake were sent to the imperial court under the supervision of Nero’s daughter Domnina. Saint Photina converted both Domnina and all her servants to Christ. She also converted a sorcerer, who had brought her poisoned food to kill her.
Three years passed, and Nero sent to the prison for one of his servants, who had been locked up. The messengers reported to him that Saints Sebastian, Photinus and Joses, who had been blinded, had completely recovered, and that people were visiting them to hear their preaching, and indeed the whole prison had been transformed into a bright and fragrant place where God was glorified.
Nero then gave orders to crucify the saints, and to beat their naked bodies with straps. On the fourth day the emperor sent servants to see whether the martyrs were still alive. But, approaching the place of the tortures, the servants fell blind. An angel of the Lord freed the martyrs from their crosses and healed them. The saints took pity on the blinded servants, and restored their sight by their prayers to the Lord. Those who were healed came to believe in Christ and were soon baptized.
In an impotent rage Nero gave orders to flay the skin from Saint Photina and to throw the martyr down a well. Sebastian, Photinus and Joses had their legs cut off, and they were thrown to dogs, and then had their skin flayed off. The sisters of Saint Photina also suffered terrible torments. Nero gave orders to cut off their breasts and then to flay their skin. An expert in cruelty, the emperor readied the fiercest execution for Saint Photis: they tied her by the feet to the tops of two bent-over trees. When the ropes were cut the trees sprang upright and tore the martyr apart. The emperor ordered the others beheaded. Saint Photina was removed from the well and locked up in prison for twenty days.
After this Nero had her brought to him and asked if she would now relent and offer sacrifice to the idols. Saint Photina spit in the face of the emperor, and laughing at him, said, “O most impious of the blind, you profligate and stupid man! Do you think me so deluded that I would consent to renounce my Lord Christ and instead offer sacrifice to idols as blind as you?”
Hearing such words, Nero gave orders to again throw the martyr down the well, where she surrendered her soul to God (ca. 66).
On the Greek Calendar, Saint Photina is commemorated on February 26.
Martyrs Isidore and Myrope of Chios
Saint Isidore lived during the reign of Emperor Decius (249-251) and came from Alexandria in Egypt. He was an officer in the Roman Navy when the fleet commanded by Admiral Numerius chanced to be anchored off the Greek island of Chios. There Christianity was not persecuted, and perhaps Saint Isidore was not as cautious as he should have been. Somehow, the centurion Julius discovered that Isidore was a Christian, and denounced him to Admiral Numerius.
The Admiral summoned him in order to determine whether or not the allegation was true. Saint Isidore admitted that he was indeed a Christian, and refused to offer sacrifice to inanimate idols. Numerius urged him to obey the Emperor's decree to offer sacrifice so that he would not be subjected to torture. Saint Isidore replied, "You may be able to kill my body, but you have no power over my soul. The true, living God, Jesus Christ, abides in me; even after my death He shall be with me, and I with Him. I shall abide in Him, and I shall never cease to confess Him while breath still remains in my body."
Saint Isidore was led away to be tortured. In the midst of his suffering, he praised Christ God and mocked the pagan idols. Since Saint Isidore still refused to offer the prescribed sacrifice, he was thrown into prison.
When the Saint's father heard about this, he went to Chios to convince Isidore to deny Christ. He was able to persuade Numerius to place Isidore in his custody, saying that he would try to convert him. The Saint, however, begged his father to open the eyes of his soul and to learn the truth about Christ. His father was most displeased by these words, and he could not accept that his son chose to believe in Christ rather than follow the idolatry of his ancestors. Seeing that Saint Isidore would not change his mind, he disowned him and sent him back to Admiral Numerius, asking him to execute his son right away.
First, the Admiral ordered Isidore to be beaten with whips, and then dragged along over rocky ground. After that, his tongue was cut out. Even without his tongue, Saint Isidore was still able to speak, by the grace of God, and he continued to confess Christ. Meanwhile, God punished Numerius by causing him to loose the power of speech. Finally, the Admiral gave the signal to behead Isidore. When he heard the sentence the holy martyr was overjoyed. Praising God, he was led to the place of execution, where he was beheaded.
After the Saint's martyrdom his body was thrown into a well to be devoured by animals, but two Christians, Saints Ammonios (September 4) and Myrope (December 2) secretly took his body, and buried it in a secret place, with all due honor. The evil Numerius heard that the martyr's body had been stolen and wanted to kill the two guards who had been ordered to prevent the body from being taken. Learning that innocent men would suffer for her good deed, Saint Myrope appeared before the authorities and acknowledged that she had stolen the martyr's body and buried it, but she refused to tell them where.
Numerius commanded that the holy virgin should be whipped, and finally she was confined in a prison, covered with wounds. But the Lord did not leave His martyr without consolation. At midnight a heavenly light illumined the prison, and many angels appeared to her with Saint Isidore in their midst. "Peace be with you, Myrope," he said to her. "God has heard your prayer, and soon you shall be with us and shall receive the crown which has been prepared for you."
The holy martyr rejoiced and surrendered her soul to God at that very moment. A sweet fragrance emanated from her body, filling the entire prison. One of the guards, seeing all of this and smelling the fragrance, told a priest about the vision. He believed in Christ and was baptized. Soon afterward, he also suffered martyrdom. Later, Saint Ammonios himself was put to death in the city of Kyzikos.
Saint Myrope's body was interred beside that of the martyr Isidore, and a chapel was built over the graves. In the fifth century, Saint Markian (January 10), the Oikonomos of the Great Church of Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) in Constantinople, built a chapel by the church of Hagia Eirene (Holy Peace). He also transferred the Saint's skull and a portion of his relics to Constantinople, which he placed in the Church of the Most Holy Theotokos at Peran.
In the sixth century, the existence of the rest of the Saint's relics on the island of Chios, and the numerous miracles which occurred, is affirmed by Saint Gregory of Tours (November 17) in his book Liber in Gloria Martyrum (Book of the Glory of the Martyrs):
"The martyr Isidore is buried on the island of Chios. In the Saint's church there is a well into which he is said to have been thrown. After drinking from the water of this well, possessed people, those with fevers, and others who are sick, are often cured. It is said that believers often see a light there, similar to a burning candle. I myself met a priest who insisted that he had often seen this light from the mouth of the well. On this island a seed is picked from the mastic trees which, so they say, are not found in other regions."
Local tradition agrees that at the place where Saint Isidore was martyred, the mastic trees shed fragrant tears because of the Holy Martyr's suffering. Tradition holds that the mastic, which is a major product of the island of Chios, may be gathered and prepared only from the trees near the site of the Saint's martyrdom.
Venerable Isidore the Fool-For-Christ and Wonderworker of Rostov
Saint Isidore Tverdislov (“Constant of Word”), Fool-for-Christ, Wonderworker of Rostov. He was born in Germany of rich parents. From his youth, he led “an unsullied life and had a compassionate understanding.” Leaving his parental home and “desiring the Kingdom of God,” Saint Isidore distributed his wealth to the poor. Taking up the staff of a wanderer, he visited many lands and cities.
He was raised in Catholicism, and it is not known where he accepted the holy Orthodox Faith. Finally, he arrived in Russia and decided to live in Rostov. Here Saint Isidore, “in filth and snow and rain and cold” and “enduring every outrage,” settled in a rickety wooden hut that he himself had made. He chose a foolish manner of life for the sake of Christ, which Saint Paul describes in his Epistle (1 Cor.4:10-13).
Saint Isidore spent all his time at unceasing prayer, not allowing himsetlf much sleep or rest. “He stood at all night vigil and praise” to dedicate his body “everlastingly to God.”
By day the blessed one made the rounds of the city, acting like a fool. “Like Job of old in his patience,” Blessed Isidore, while still alive, was “an earthly angel and a heavenly man,” “a compassionate soul, and pure of thought, and vigilant heart and faith unassailed, and true love without pretense.” During his life he received the grace to work miracles.
Saint Isidore reposed in the year 1474. They learned of his death only when, passing by his hut, they noticed a special fragrance. At the place of his burial in the city of Rostov the church of the Ascension of the Lord was built, in which his relics rest in a crypt as a source of miracles to the present day.
Blessed Isidore is termed “Tverdislov” [“Constant of Word”] since he spoke constantly. [The title “Tverdislov” seems unique to Saint Isidore. This supplemental account of him is from Bulgakov’s Nastolnaya Kniga (1900).]
Saint Nikḗtas, Bishop of Novgorod, Recluse of the Kiev Far Caves
Saint Nikḗtas, Hermit of the Kiev Caves, Bishop of Novgorod (+1109): The memory of Saint Nikḗtas was celebrated on May 14 at Novgorod, where his relics are located. The saint is also commemorated on January 31, the day of his repose, and on April 30, the day of the Uncovering of his Relics (1558).
The Holy Martyr Maximus suffered under the emperor Decius (249-251). Maximus was a layman and a merchant. He was a devout Christian and he led many pagans to faith in Christ the Savior, and persuaded them to accept Baptism.
Once, when the pagans had gathered to offer a human sacrifice to their gods, Saint Maximus plucked up his courage, unable to bear the sight of such a spectacle, and rushed at them, loudly denouncing their impiety and error, calling the idols soulless creations of mankind. The frenzied pagans stoned the martyr to death.
Venerable Serapion of Egypt
Saint Serapion lived during the fifth century in Egypt. He was called the linen cloth-wearer (Sindonite) since he wore only a coarse linen garb called a “sindon.” From his youth the monk lived like the birds of the air, without a shelter.
For several days at a time he did not eat, not having the means to buy bread. He gave away his sindon to a beggar who was shivering from the cold, and he himself was naked.
A certain Greek philosopher, wishing to test the non-covetousness of the monk, gave him a gold coin and watched him. The saint went to the bakery, bought one loaf of bread, gave the merchant the gold coin and left, having no regard for the value of the money.
Saint Serapion led many on the way of salvation. Once, he was the servant of a Greek actor, whom he converted to Christ. The actor, imitating the example of the holy life of the saint, believed and was baptized together with all his family. He asked Saint Serapion to remain with him not as a servant, but as a guide and friend, but the monk went away, not taking any of the money offered him.
Traveling to Rome, Saint Serapion got on a ship, but paid nothing to the ship owners. At first they began to reproach him for this, but noticing that the Elder had gone five days already without eating, they began to feed him for the sake of God, and in this they fulfilled the command of the Lord.
At Rome, the saint continued to wander about, going from house to house, having nothing, accumulating only spiritual wealth for himself and for his neighbor.
Saint Leontius, Patriarch of Jerusalem
Saint Leontius was Patriarch of Jerusalem from 1223-1261, according to Saint Gregory Palamas (Nov. 14) and Theodore, a monk of Constantinople.
This Life was translated from Greek into the Russian language in an abridged form. It was translated a second time more fully by Saint Νikόdēmos of the Holy Mountain (July 14), who says the death of the Patriarch actually occurred in 1175.
First opening of the relics of Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk
The incorrupt relics of Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk were first uncovered in May 1846, during the construction of the new cathedral at Zadonsk. They were found beneath the altar of the old church.
Saint Tikhon is also commemorated on August 13.
“Sweet-Kissing” Icon of the Mother of God
No information available at this time.
“Yaroslavl-Caves” Icon of the Mother of God
Alexandra Dmitrievna Dobychkina, who was from a middle-class family in Yaroslavl, suffered terribly from spiritual and physical ailments for seventeen years. In 1823 she beheld a vision of a church in which was an Icon of the Mother of God. Offering her heartfelt prayers to the Most Holy Theotokos, she asked to be freed from these afflictions. One day Alexandra had a vision in which she was shown a church where there was a certain Icon of the Mother of God. Then a mysterious voice told her to search for the Icon in that church, and there she would be healed.
On May 1, 1823, Alexandra managed to find the church beside the residence of the Bishop of Yaroslavl. The church was very old, and was dedicated to the Feast of the Procession of the Precious Wood of the Life-giving Cross of the Lord (August 1). Recognizing the church as the one she had seen in her vision, Alexandra went inside to look around. Suddenly, she found herself before an Icon of the Mother of God painted on the wall, the same one she had been shown in the vision. Struck with fear, she fell to the floor with terrible convulsions, and writhed in pain. When these subsided, Alexandra stood up and prayed fervently before the holy Icon. As she prayed, she began to feel relief from her painful torments. The next day she was perfectly well.
From that time, many miraculous cures have taken place before this Icon for those who pray to the Most Holy Theotokos with faith and reverence.
The Yaroslavl-Caves Icon of the Mother of God depicts her seated on a throne with her Divine Child, and it also includes Saints Anthony and Theodosios, the wonderworkers of the Kiev Caves (September 2). Two Angels stand behind the throne on either side.
There are two other Yaroslavl Icons: the first is the famous Yaroslavl Icon (June 8), which is of the Eleousa (Tenderness) type, and dates from the XIII century. The second is the Yaroslavl-Kazan Icon, which was revealed on July 8,1588.
New Martyr Raiko (John) of Bulgaria
No information available at this time.
Hieromartyr Therapontus of Cyprus
No information available at this time.