Why Remember the Saints?

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Re: Why Remember the Saints?

Postby Theophilus » October 30th, 2010, 7:28 pm

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St. Photini lived in first century Palestine. She was the Samaritan woman who Christ visited at the well asking her for water. It was she who accepted the “living water” offered her by Christ Himself after repenting from her many sins (John. 4:5-42). She went and told her townspeople that she had met the Christ. For this, she is sometimes recognized as the first to proclaim the Gospel of Christ. She converted her five sisters (Sts. Anatole, Photo, Photis, Paraskeve, and Kyriake) and her two sons (Victor and Joses). They all became tireless evangelists for Christ.

The apostles of Christ baptized her and gave her the name of Photini which means “the enlightened one.” She is remembered by the Church as a Holy Martyr and Equal to the Apostles. After Sts. Peter and Paul were martyred, St. Photini and her family left their homeland of Sychar, in Samaria, to travel to Carthage to proclaim the Gospel of Christ there.

During the reign of Emperor Nero in the first century, excessive cruelty was displayed against the Christians, St. Photini lived in Carthage with her younger son, Joses. Her eldest son, Victor, fought bravely in the Roman army against the 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 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.”

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 Sebastian lay there blind, without uttering a word. On the fourth day he declared, “The God of the Christians is the only true God.” St. 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. St. 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. 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 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 Sebastian to persevere until the end.

All these things, and even future events, were revealed to St. Photini. She left Carthage in the company of several Christians and joined the confessors in Rome.

At Rome, Emperor Nero 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. The emperor then gave orders to smash the martyrs’ finger joints. During the torture, the confessors felt no pain, and their hands remained unharmed.

Nero ordered that Sts. Sebastian, Photinus and Joses be blinded and locked up in prison, and St. Photini and her five sisters, Anatola, Phota, Photis, Paraskeva and Kyriake, were sent to the imperial court under the supervision of Nero’s daughter, Domnina. St. Photini converted both Domnina and her servants to Christ. She also converted a sorcerer, who had brought her poisoned food that was meant 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 Sts. Sebastian, Photinus and Joses, who had been blinded, had completely recovered, and that people were visiting them to hear their preaching. 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. 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 a rage, Nero gave orders to flay the skin from St. Photini and to throw her 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 St. Photini also suffered terrible torments. Nero gave orders to cut off their breasts and to flay their skin. An expert in cruelty, the emperor readied the fiercest execution for St. 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. St. Photini was removed from the well and locked up in prison for twenty days.

After this, Nero had St. Photini brought to him and asked if she would now relent and offer sacrifice to the idols. St. Photini spat in his face, 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 throw St. Photini down a well, where she surrendered her soul to God in the year 66.

Kontakion (Tone 1) –

O Almighty Saviour, Who did pour forth water for the Hebrews from a solid rock:

You did come to the Land of Samaria, and addressed a woman,

whom You did attract to faith in You,

and she has now attained life in the heavens everlastingly.
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Re: Why Remember the Saints?

Postby Pondero » October 31st, 2010, 1:02 am

Very interesting Theo, when I hear such stories they usually come from the Tradition of the Church, for example that is how we know that St.Anne and St.joachim were the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. But, I have read of course about the woman of the well, a Samaritan woman who had five husbands, and you are saying she is St. Photini. Where is the backup for this information, there must be something in writing somewhere about it?

I haven't looked anything up on Wikipedia or anywhere else as I am waiting for your explanation - too tired to bother doing any research anyway.
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Re: Why Remember the Saints?

Postby Theophilus » November 1st, 2010, 5:28 pm

It's interesting that you talk about "backup" for this information and then mention a written version somewhere. I say that because in antiquity written information - particularly prose - would be seen as quite unreliable, as it could be altered so easily in transcription. Oral tradition, on the other hand, would be poetic - so that it could be remembered more easily - and because it was poetic it would be far more difficult to alter without changing the rhythm and rhyme of the verse.

So, the story of St. Photini is from the Tradition of the Church, the same Tradition which gives us the name of the Mother of God's parents. When it was first written down, I am not sure. It may be in Eusebius' history of the Church. I can check that.
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Re: Why Remember the Saints?

Postby Pondero » November 1st, 2010, 10:50 pm

There has to be backup for oral tradition otherwise how would you know about it, and contrary to what you say it is oral tradition that ought to be checked out not just the written one. Both, could be forged. Also, when stories (true or false) are spread by word of mouth, they tend to change over time. Now, in our Church, the Church itself is the sole judge of what is and what is not oral tradition. And there is something somewhere written down about it. You see if it is in the bible it is not oral tradition, but that goes without saying .

For example, the oral tradition of St. Joachim and St. Ann being the father and mother of the Mary the Mother of God is found written in the Protoevangium of James, and early apocryphal writing .Nothing is found in the Bible whatsoever about them.

St. Photini does not appear in the Penguin Dictionary of Saints, whereas S.S. Joachim and Ann do; and I wonder if she went by another name in the Roman Catholic tradition that is why I can't find any written document.(If I find something else I will write about it here).
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Re: Why Remember the Saints?

Postby Theophilus » November 2nd, 2010, 8:11 pm

I hope you find more information about St Photini.
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Re: Why Remember the Saints?

Postby Theophilus » November 2nd, 2010, 8:39 pm

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Holy Righteous Artemii of Verkol'sk was born in the village of Dvina Verkol around the year 1532. The son of pious parents, Artemii was a lad with fortitude, mildness and diligent for every good deed. On 23 June 1545 the thirteen year old Artemii and his father were taken by surprise in a field by a thunderstorm. Under one of the strokes of lightning the lad Artemii fell dead. People thought that this was a sign of judgement from God, and therefore they left the body unburied in a pine forest. After 28 days the village clergyman beheld a light over the place, where the undecayed body of Righteous Artemii lay. Taken to church, the holy relics were shewn a source of numerous healings. In this village there was later built a monastery, called the Verkol'sk.



      The righteous, though they die early, will be at rest.
      For old age is not honored for length of time, or measured by number of years;
      But understanding is grey hair for anyone,
      And a blameless life is ripe old age.

      There were some who pleased God and were loved by Him,
      And while living among sinners were taken up.
      They were caught up so that evil might not changer their understanding,
      Or guile deceive their souls...

      ...Being perfected in a short time, they fulfilled long years;
      For their souls were pleasing to the Lord.
      Therefore He took them up quickly from the midst of wickedness.
      Yet the people saw and did not understand,
      Or take such a thing to heart,
      That God's grace and mercy are with His elect,
      And that He watches over His holy children.

      -Wisdom of Solomon, 4: 7-13
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Re: Why Remember the Saints?

Postby Theophilus » November 6th, 2010, 8:13 pm

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The Martyr Arethas and with him 4299 Martyrs suffered for the Lord Jesus Christ in the sixth century. Arethas was prefect of the Christian city of Negran in Arabia. The Arabian king, Dunaan, who was Jewish, decided to eliminate Christianity from the land. He issued an edict that all followers of Christ were to be put to death. Because the inhabitants of Negran remained faithful to the Lord, Dunaan came with a large army to destroy the city. At the city walls of Negran the king's heralds announced that Dunaan would only spare those who renounced Christ and referred to His Cross as a "sign of malediction."

Not daring to assault the Christian city by force, Dunaan resorted to a ruse. Dunaan swore an oath that he would not force the Christians into Judaism, but would merely collect a tribute from Negran. The inhabitants of the city would not heed the advice of St Arethas, and putting their trust in Dunaan, they opened the city gates.

The very next day Dunaan gave orders to light an immense fire and throw all the clergy of the city into it in order to frighten the rest of the Christians. 427 men were burned. He also threw the prefect Arethas and the other chief men into prison. Then the oppressor sent his messengers through the city to convert the Christians to Judaism. Dunaan himself conversed with those inhabitants brought from the prisons, saying, "I do not demand that you should renounce the God of heaven and earth, nor do I want you to worship idols, I want merely that you do not believe in Jesus Christ, since the Crucified One was a man, and not God."

The holy martyrs replied that Jesus is God the Word, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Who for the salvation of mankind was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. Those suffering said, "We shall not abjure Christ, since He is Life for us. To die for Him is to find Life."

More than four thousand Christians, men, women, both the aged and children, from the city of Negran and surrounding villages suffered martyrdom for Christ.
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Re: Why Remember the Saints?

Postby Theophilus » November 6th, 2010, 8:15 pm

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Saint Elesbaan, known also as King Kaleb of Ethiopia lived when Arabia was ruled by Dunaan, the oppressor of Christians (see above post). The pious Elesbaan was unable to look on indifferently as believers in Christ were being massacred. He declared war on Dunaan, but his military campaign was unsuccessful.

Wishing to learn the reason for his defeat, Elesbaan, with prompting from above, turned to a certain hermit. He revealed to the emperor that he had proceeded unrighteously in deciding to take revenge against Dunaan, since the Lord had said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay!" (Heb 10:30).

The hermit counseled St Elesbaan make a vow to devote his final days of life to God, to escape the wrath of God for his self-willed revenge, and then to defeat Dunaan. St Elesbaan made a vow to the Lord, and marching off with his army against the Jewish King, he defeated, captured and executed him. After the victory the saint resigned as emperor, secluded himself within a monastery and for fifteen years he dwelt in strict fasting and asceticism.
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Re: Why Remember the Saints?

Postby Theophilus » March 9th, 2011, 3:19 pm

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The holy, glorious and right-victorious Forty Martyrs of Sebaste are a group of Roman soldiers who became martyrs for their Christian faith in 320.

St. Constantine the Great issued an edict in the year 313, granting Christians religious freedom, and officially recognizing Christianity as equal with paganism under the law. But Licinius, his co-ruler and a pagan, continued to persecute the Christians of the East. He also purged Christians from his own army, fearing mutiny.


According to St. Basil, forty soldiers who had openly confessed themselves Christians were condemned by the prefect to be exposed naked upon a frozen pond near Sebaste on a bitterly cold night, that they might freeze to death. Among the confessors, one yielded and, leaving his companions, sought the warm baths near the lake which had been prepared for any who might prove inconstant. One of the guards set to keep watch over the martyrs beheld a supernatural brilliancy overshadowing them and at once proclaimed himself a Christian, threw off his garments, and placed himself beside the thirty-nine soldiers of Christ. Thus the number of forty remained complete. At daybreak, the stiffened bodies of the confessors, which still showed signs of life, were burned and the charred bones were cast into a river so that Christians would not gather them up.

Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St. Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop, together with several clergy, gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honour.
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Re: Why Remember the Saints?

Postby Theophilus » April 11th, 2011, 5:32 pm

The Martyr from the Apocalypse

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The Priest-martyr Antipas, a disciple of the holy Apostle John the Theologian (September 26), was bishop of the Church of Pergamum during the reign of the emperor Nero (54-68).

During these times, everyone who would not offer sacrifice to the idols lived under threat of either exile or execution by order of the emperor. On the island of Patmos (in the Aegean Sea) the holy Apostle John the Theologian was imprisoned, he to whom the Lord revealed the future judgment of the world and of Holy Church.

"And to the angel of the Church of Pergamum write: the words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword. I know where you live, where the throne of Satan is, and you cleave unto My Name, and have not renounced My faith, even in those days when Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwells" (Rev 2:12-13).

By his personal example, firm faith and constant preaching about Christ, St Antipas began to turn the people of Pergamum from offering sacrifice to idols. The pagan priests reproached the bishop for leading the people away from their ancestral gods, and they demanded that he stop preaching about Christ and offer sacrifice to the idols instead.

St Antipas calmly answered that he was not about to serve the demons that fled from him, a mere mortal. He said he worshiped the Lord Almighty, and he would continue to worship the Creator of all, with His Only-Begotten Son, and the Holy Spirit. The pagan priests retorted that their gods existed from of old, whereas Christ was not from of old but was crucified under Pontius Pilate as a criminal. The saint replied that the pagan gods were the work of human hands and that everything said about them was filled with iniquities and vices. He steadfastly confessed his faith in the Son of God, incarnate of the Most Holy Virgin.

The enraged pagan priests dragged the Priest-martyr Antipas to the temple of Artemis and threw him into a red-hot copper bull, where usually they put the sacrifices to the idols. In the red-hot furnace the martyr prayed loudly to God, imploring Him to receive his soul and to strengthen the faith of the Christians . [He also asked forgiveness for his tormentors and that he would help be a source of healing to the faithful, especially those suffering from ailments of teeth]. He went to the Lord peacefully, as if he were going to sleep (+ c. 68 or c. 92).

At night Christians took the body of the Priest-martyr Antipas, which was untouched by the fire. They buried him at Pergamum. The tomb of the priest-martyr became a font of miracles and of healings from various sicknesses.

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        In a fiery ox as in a luminous temple
        Antipas, the Christian, does not suffer loneliness:
        In his pure heart, the Lord abides
        Neither the fire burns him neither is he in horror of it
        The saint for Christ patiently endures all,
        And prayers to Christ from the fire, ascend,
        Oh, All-Powerful Christ, King of all ages,
        For these sufferings, a hundred-fold thanks be to You!
        All in me that is sinful, let burn with fire,
        That I be more precious according to heavenly worth.
        Oh Savior, I pray to You; my flock protect
        In this town, in awful dung!
        May my blood strengthen them in the Faith,
        And their hearts to You be fixed.
        And for the heathen, also, O Blessed One I pray to You
        Seize them, once and for all, from demonic lies;
        And for all sinners, who ridicule Your law,
        Direct them to You, the only One to serve.
        Behold, all is within the authority of Your Holy Will,
        And finally, to You I pray: may it be better for the Church!
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