Russian Wikipedia says the name "Svetlana" was invented in 19th century by a poet Alexander Vostokov. But some people also pointed out that Svetlana is Russian equivalent of Photini, the Samaritan woman Jesus met at the well. These claims seem controversial. If the name was invented in 19th century, how did the Russian Orthodox Church call the Samaritan woman prior to this?

  • December 13, 1982, the feast of Santa Lucia, at Cambridge, England, Alliluyeva converted to the Roman Catholic Church. Alas, she died a Catholic!
    – Ken Graham
    May 23, 2020 at 3:30
  • They (obviously) called her Photini. The Hebrew Matthew, the Greek Theodore, and the Slavic Bogdan are (also) equivalent; but no one speaks of the Gospel according to Theodore (instead of Matthew), or the Great Martyr Bogdan (instead of Theodore).
    – user46876
    May 23, 2020 at 4:08
  • Certainly, it is good to have well-meaning names and easy to use, of course not embarrassing or ridiculous. Rather than having good names, i.e. Jesus, Mary, Stefano, and Paul, etc. for Believers and God, life is what matters. Caleb is identical to the spelling of the word dog, but he is known by God for his faithfulness. So, I would say, if Svetlana lives like what it means, that's not good, but if she lives like light and salt to the world, that's all that matters before God!
    – Sam
    Jun 6, 2020 at 1:59
  • @Sam LOL Svetlana means the light or fairy one
    – Anixx
    Jun 6, 2020 at 6:19
  • @Anixx Oh, then change to if she lives to her name, excellent, if she doesn't, that's bad. TKHS
    – Sam
    Jun 6, 2020 at 21:23

1 Answer 1


It is ok for Russian Church, historically some names, which we can find in ROC calendary, for example: Вѣра (Věra), Надѣжда (Naděžda), Любовь (Ljubovj), Боголѣпъ (Bogolěp), have an other view of their origin names, for those names they are Greek ones: Elpis, Pistis, Agapi, Theoprepios. At the time of Rus Baptial time the greek names yet used in their original view, it can be observed, for example, in cathedral of Sofia Kievan. And the reason of view transformation is that the slavic forms of the names, keeping their meaning, are more understandable for the people. The similar one yet name is the Leont, which becomes Лев (Lev).

There is the name pair, which form migrated from slavic to gree view. That is name Злата (Zlata), which became in Greek calendary as Chrisi. The name has appeared in calendary by the martys Zlata Moglenska.

So when we are seeing to the name of Свѣтлана (Světlana), the approach of appearing and using the name Fotini, was that, Wikipedia says that the name was blessed by the Synod of ROC in 1943. But I have not found confirmations of that point of view in the deeds of that Synod. And my point of view is the next. When at the end of XX century many women with the name of Světlana went to the Church, and the question on how to baptise them had arisen. So the church popes and bishops, which know the languages and tradition of namegiving in Church, just bless the equality of the names Světlana and Fotini by the meaning. Of course this reason can be applied to the time of Synod 1943.

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