Photini, Hermit of the Jordan Wilderness

“The Hermitess Photini” by Archimandrite Joachim Spetsieris (St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery, 2000)
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In the years before World War I, it was well known that there were Christian hermits dwelling in the wilderness near where the Jordan River enters the Dead Sea. Little is known of their numbers or their lives. One exception is the Hermit Photini, while she is known only because of a chance encounter with a young monk, an encounter that inspired his later life. His account of that meeting became a classic of Modern Greek asceticism. Two earlier figures lie behind the story. One is the Byzantine hermit, Mary of Egypt, who lived in the same area and who likewise is known only because of a chance encounter with a monk. The other is the original Photini, “Great Martyr” and “Equal-to-the-Apostles”, the “woman at the well” (John 4:5-42), who was a Samaritan: http://www.orthodoxchristian.info/pages/photini.htm
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Father Joachim travelled to the Jordan River in 1890. There he met a woman who as a youngster was given a theological education. After the death of her parents, she became a hermit. He wrote what she shared with him about her life and daily routine as well as her opinions on solitude, the daily offices, the Jesus Prayer, work, the passions, rapture, the priesthood, dispassion and more.
photini and joachim
This is the incredible true story of Photini, a young woman who lived in disguise as a man a hundred years ago. Aflame with love for God, she abandoned the world to live as a hermit. She journeyed beyond the Jordan River and found a cave where she lived in complete seclusion, unknown to the world. But her secret life was providentially discovered by Father Joachim in his quest to find holy hermits. In this inspiring book of his, he describes is encounter with the hermit and tells her life’s adventure. This unique book has great spiritual worth since it is not merely a captivating story, but it also includes Photini’s deep insights about life and the struggle for spiritual perfection.
See also http://www.cicts.org/default.asp?id=356&de=1&id_ev=289

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