St. Spyridon of Trimythous
You showed yourself a defender of the first Council and a worker of miracles. You summoned the woman back from the grave and turned the snake into gold. Angels came to minister beside you, O holy father Spirydon, when you offered your ardent prayers. Glory to Him who strengthened you! Glory to Him who crowned you! Glory to Him who heals us through your intercessions. (Apolytikion)
Today we commemorate a great saint who exemplified humility and love, St. Spyridon, the 4th century Bishop of Trimythous in Cyprus. He is an example not only for priests and hierarchs, but also for the faithful who can learn from him how to live among the great and powerful and still maintain a spirit of humility, generosity and compassion toward all.
Before Spyridon became a bishop he was a simple shepherd in his native Cyprus. He was married and he and his wife had one daughter.
His compassion for those in need compelled him even to break the fast. On the first day of Lent a traveller knocked on his door. St. Spyridon asked his daughter to wash the man’s feet so he could eat dinner with them. His daughter pointed out that there was no bread in the house, since St. Spyridon only ate on certain days during the fast. He responded by telling her to cook a salted ham. When the man refused to eat, St. Spyridon told him , “It is not proper to refuse this, for the Word of God proclaims, “Unto the pure all things are pure” (Titus 1:15).
After his wife died, Spyridon’s holiness became well known and, when the Bishop of the small town of Trimythous died, the people with one voice called on Spyridon to be his successor. As a bishop, he never lost his humble shepherd ways, but shepherded the flock of Christ like the true and good Shepherd.
The life of St. Spyridon is filled with the stories of his miracles. A couple of these stories will illustrate how God used him as his instrument in this world, and how his main concern was to help and comfort the poor and afflicted.
At a time of a terrible drought, the Saint interceded and the rains fell. However, there were some unscrupulous men on the island who had horded grain and intended to sell the grain at an exorbitant price in order to make a profit on the misfortune of their fellow citizens. At the prayers of the Saint their barns fell to the ground and the grain equitably distributed among the people. According to the Church Historian Sozomen, St. Spyridon would divide his grain among the destitute and those who were suffering from debt; he did not keep anything for himself personally, but opened his storeroom to all to take what they needed and to pay it back whenever possible.
At another time, just a look from him reduced a woman of loose reputation to repent and give up her evil ways. He also converted some thieves who had broken into his sheepfold to steal some ewes. They found themselves bound by an invisible force throughout the night. Spyridon discovered them the next day and spoke to them at length about how they needed to give up their life of stealing and live by honorable labor. After he was through, he let them go, giving each a lamb, saying, “Take this for your trouble, so you did not spend a sleepless night in vain.”
O venerable father, renowned hierarch, having followed the teaching of the apostles, you became the dwelling-place of the Spirit through your virtues. by your teachings, you keep the wicked wolves far from the Church, and you cause the orthodox Faith to shine with all brilliance. you were a pillar, a defender of the Faith. Extending your miracles to the whole world, you changed a serpent into gold and raised up a dead person to answer your questions. Most worthy of admiration among the Fathers, and with the boldness of the holy Teachers, beg Christ to save our souls! (Doxastikon of the Ainoi)
St. Spyridon was one of the bishops present at the First Ecumenical Council at Nicaea. There he simply and eloquently defended the Orthodox doctrine of the Trinity, so that a famous Arian philosopher could not refute him, but converted and was baptized. St. Spyridon also graphically showed the nature of the Trinity. He took a brick and squeezed it; out of the brick came fire, water, and dust was left. Just as the brick was one thing, it was made up of three. “There was only one brick,” St Spyridon said, “but it was composed of three elements. In the Holy Trinity there are three Persons, but only one God.”
On another occasion, St. Spyridon was celebrating the Divine Liturgy in a remote church. His assitants heard the voices of an angelic choir make the responses of the Liturgy. The beauty drew the neighboring people to the Church, but when they arrived, they saw only the Saint and the servers.
After a long and virtuous life, St. Spyridon reposed in the Lord in 348. His holy body continued to be the source of divine power and miracles. In the 7th century his body was taken to Constantinople in order to avoid its desecration by the invading Arabs. When the City was falling to the Turks in 1456, his incorrupt body was secretly taken to the island of Kerkyra (Corfu), where he continued to protect the faithful from famine, plague and invasions.
The Reliquary of St. Spyridon on Kerkrya
The legend of St. Spyridon maintains that he is a “walking saint” who walks during the night to continue bringing compassion and healing to his people. The belief proliferated because his shoes seem to wear out every year, and he requires a new pair. One pair of St. Spyridon’s shoes are located in the Cathedral of St. Spyridon in Worcester, MA.
Slippers of St. Spyridon in Worcester MA
St. Spyridon is an incredible witness of the Christian life, a life of humble service, of love especially to the poor, and of compassion toward all who are in need of compassion. Through his intercession may we learn these traits from him!
O blessed father, venerable Spyridon, for love of God you challenge sin even now just as wehn you were alive. You practiced poverty, yet changed a serpent into gold; you stopped the flow of a river in your flowing compassion for the people; as an instrument of the Providence of God, you appeared to the emperor and healed him. As a disciple of Christ, you raised the dead. Joining the assembly of the Fathers, you made the brilliant purity of the faith shine forth. Having such power with Christ who gave you these gifts, pray to Him to save our souls. (Doxastikon of the Kekragaria)