Saint Spyridon, Bishop of Trimythous
Our father among the saints Spyridon of Trimythous the Wonderworker (Greek: Σπυρίδων ca. 270-348) was a fourth century bishop who was present at the First Ecumenical Council. He is also commonly referred to in Corfu as Keeper of the City (Greek: ο πολιούχος), since he is also the patron saint of that island, where his relics are located and venerated by the faithful. He is commemorated by the church on December 12.
Spyridon was born in the village of Ashia (askia - "without shade"), Cyprus (270 AD) and died in Trimythous, Cyprus (348 AD). He was a peasant farmer and shepherd and was not educated. Spyridon was married and had one daughter, Irene. After his wife died, he and his daughter both entered into monasticism. He later became the Bishop of Trimythous (during the reign of Constantine the Great) and continued in piety for which he was greatly known.
Persecutions and witness to Orthodox Faith
During the Maximilian persecutions (295 AD) he was arrested and exiled. In 325 AD, he was present at the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea where he astonished many with his simple explanations of the Orthodox Faith. Though not well-educated, he surprised everyone at the Council of Nicea by converting a famous philosopher to Orthodoxy from Arianism. He explained the unity and diversity of the Trinity by holding up a brick, then commonly thought to be a combination of the elements fire, earth and water; as he spoke, fire blazed from the top of the brick while water gushed out underneath, with the earth remaining in his hand. There too, at Nicea, he met St. Nicholas of Myra, with whom he formed a lasting friendship.
Through simplicity and deep devotion to God, he worked miracles throughout his life and became known as a great wonder-worker, calling forth rain in the midst of drought, casting out demons with a single word, healing the sick and even raising people from the dead, in addition to having the gift of prescience.
When he arrived back home from Nicea a woman told him that she had given his daughter, who had died while he was away, some jewelry for safekeeping. Now that his daughter was dead, no one could find where she had put them. Spyridon went to his daughter's grave, spoke to her, and was able to restore the jewelry to its owner.
Also during a famine Spyridon changed a snake into gold pieces so that a poor man could buy food from a greedy merchant who had cornered the supply.
One day there was only himself and the deacon and readers in church at vespers, and the responses could be heard beautifully chanted by an unseen choir. The music was so beautiful that others, passing by, heard it and saw through the windows what seemed like a large congregation. Entering the church, however, they found only St. Spyridon and his assistants.
Departure and Relics
St. Spyridon lived most of his earthly life in Cyprus, where he also reposed in 348 AD and was buried in the Church of the Holy Apostles in Trimythous.
When the Saracens took the island, the Cypriots opened his grave in order to remove his sacred bones to Constantinople. They found that his body had remained intact, while from the grave emanated a scent of basil, true signs of the sainthood he had shown during his lifetime. When Constantinople fell in 1453, he was transferred to Serbia, then a Corfiot elder, Georgios Kalohairetis, brought him to the island of Corfu in Greece where he is currently buried.
To this day St. Spyridon's incorrupt relics at his shrine in Corfu continue to manifest the power of God, who is wondrous in His saints. He is called the "walking saint" because the silk slippers which clothe the feet of his relics wear out each year from his travels to help people, and are replaced each year on his feast day. These slippers have been known to work miracles through the prayers of St. Spyridon, and we are blessed to have a pair of these very slippers at our Cathedral.