Before we get started, I want you to check out this video : it’s a modern rendition of Christ’s moving encounter with the woman at the well.
In the East, the Samaritan woman is known by her Baptismal name, “St. Photini,” which means “enlightened one” . St. Photini is called “equal to the Apostles” for her role in sharing the Good News. She is one of the few people to whom Christ reveals His identity as the Messiah prior to His Passion. She died a martyr’s death by being thrown into a well by orders of Emperor Nero, but not before converting his daughter to Christianity. You can learn more about St. Photini and her feast here .
We begin our study of the Samaritan woman by reading John 4:1-27. First, invoke the Holy Spirit to open your mind and your heart. Then, follow the steps below. If you are new to this form of meditation, shoot for 10 minutes of peace and quiet to enter into this healing scene with Christ.
Share your thoughts. What verse stood out to you? How does it apply to your current situation? What is Christ inviting you to do?
For me, two things stood out:
- Jesus is inviting us to serve without question. Jesus asks the Samaritan woman for a simple cup of water, what is He asking of you? What obstacles are preventing you from answering this call to serve? For the Samaritan woman, it was labels: I’m a Samaritan and you’re a Jew. Jesus, help me respond to the needs of others in non-judgmental and timely way.
- Jesus is also inviting us to listen without judgement. The downcast woman leaves the well uplifted. This is our goal: when women share their mistakes with us, they should leave our presence feeling uplifted. We should not be afraid of inviting them to strive for holiness, but, like Christ, we should never condemn someone, especially when they are in a vulnerable state. Moreover, even if we know someone has done wrong, we should never corner and pull things out of people through confrontation. Like Jesus, we should be present and available. Let’s strive to be a place of refuge and inspiration for the women in our lives.
 The West too recognizes St. Photini as an early martyr of the Church. The Jesuit Cornelius à Lapide, in his Great Commentary, says this about the Saint: “Her proper name was Photina, who is reckoned among the Saints in the Roman Martyrology on the twentieth of March, in the words following: ‘On the same day St. Photina, the Samaritan woman, her sons, Joseph and Victor: also Sebastian, a general, Anatolius, Photius, &c., brothers, who all confessed Christ and obtained martyrdom.’ On which Baronius says, ‘The Greek Menology assigns this day for her commemoration.’ Her head is religiously preserved at Rome, in the basilica of S. Paul, where I have seen it amongst other relics of the saints.”
 This link is a video to Fr. Barnabas Powell’s homily on the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman. Fr. Barnabas runs an Orthodox mission in Cumming, Ga.