I’ve been contemplating an update for some time, and haven’t had much of a clear idea for what content. There’s just a lot of content. Then noticed that the feast day of St. Spyridon is December 12, perfect time to tell of his church.
St. Spyridon has been one of my favorite saints. He was born in Cyprus and served as a bishop in Trymithous in the 4th century, all while maintaining the life of a simple shepherd. His icon normally shows him wearing a round, pointed shepherd’s cap. He was one of the 318 bishops to attend the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea, which formulated the major part of the Nicene Creed. The council also addressed a false doctrine, which Church tradition says St. Spyridon had a hand in refuting as well. The doctrine in question made Jesus Christ a created being that was subordinate to the Father (“Arianism”), and not fully sharing in God the Father’s divine nature from eternity. The Nicene Creed states Christian doctrine very clearly in this matter; Jesus is, “…begotten of the Father before all ages, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, of one essence with the Father….” When the theological debates were ending and the arguments seemed at an impasse in favor of the Arian heresy, St. Spyridon stepped forward and asked to speak. Being an unlettered shepherd, his brother bishops thought it unwise of him to debate with the shrewd Arians. After his brother bishops relented, St. Spyridon demonstrated the truth of the Trinity by showing a clay tile in his left hand to everyone and speaking of God’s infinite nature. He finished by saying, “…I want…to prove the truth to you, before your very eyes, through this common tile which is also composed of three elements, and yet is one in substance and nature.”
So saying, St. Spyridon made the sign of the cross with his right hand, and holding the tile in his left said, “In the name of the Father!” At that moment, the flame with which the tile had been baked rose up out of the clay, to the astonishment of everyone present. The saint continued, “And of the Son!” and before the eyes of the assembly, the water which had been mixed with the clay came streaming out of it. “And of the Holy Spirit!” and opening his hand, the saint showed that in his palm there remained only the dry earth from which the tile had been molded. Through this miracle many Arians became convinced of their error and were restored to the Church. Many icons show him holding the clay tile referring to this miracle, as in the painting on the right.
St. Spyridon is also famously called “The Walking Saint.” This owing to the fact that his body wears ornate silk slippers inside his reliquary, but these must be replaced about once every year because they wear down over time like any pair of shoes. He has been seen appearing in person to people throughout the centuries. There have been numerous stories of his protection of the island of Corfu, where his relics have stayed for over 500 years. This included invasions from Turks, and bombardments from Italian forces in WWII.
He is also known as a Protector of Children, like St. Nicholas the Wonderworker of Myra, and this is the main reason for my fondness of him. When dealing with thieves, his demeanor was that of a Shepherd of Men (see the section under ‘Socrates Scholasticus’).
I spent Spring Break this past year (2016) in Greece, traveling for part of the trip to Corfu (“Kerkyra” in Greek) to visit St. Spyridon. It was Holy Monday through Wednesday that I stayed in Corfu, just a day after St. Spyridon’s relics were taken in one of its annual processions on Palm Sunday. Photos were not allowed inside the church, but I was able to attend Holy Week services, pray, place an icon of St. Spyridon on his reliquary for his blessing, and venerate his feet. The antiphonal Byzantine chanting in Bridegroom Matins services was just amazing, beautiful.
Two performances this week at school: one for Middle and High School, the other for Primary School. Lots of performance preparations going on. Friday is a half day with a faculty luncheon after student dismissal. Looking forward to flying to family in Orlando, Florida in a new home!