Place of worshipping – Official Agios Spyridon Corfu

Place of worshipping

Saint Spyridon, bishop of Trimithounta and thaumaturgist, lived in Cyprus during the 4th century. He was a married shepherd who had one daughter named Irini. He was different from the other people because of his faith in God, his love for the others, his simplicity,his humbleness, his hospitality and his beneficence charities.

When his wife died, Spyridon devoted his life to God completely. Without running after it, he acquired good reputation in Cyprus and as soon as the bishop of Trimithounta died, the faithful christians chose Spyridon as his successor.

Despite the honour and his new position, the humble shepherd did not change at all. He was always wearing the same poor clothes, the same cap made from woven palm leaves.

He used his feet as means of transportation and he dealed with the agricultural work and he was a good shepherd, just like before. One night, suddenly, thieves broke into his corral in order to steal his sheep. However, when they tried to escape with the sheep, they felt a weird, invisible power to stop them from moving. When the morning came, Saint Spyridon found them and they, being fully ashamed of, told him the story. Then, as Spyridon released them from the fetters, he helped them realise their mistake and he gave them two rams as a present for their "awakefulness" as he said.

Being strict with himself and full of compassion for the others, Spyridon acquired boldness in presence of God and he did many miracles. When draught hit Cyprus, Saint Spyridon brought back the rain and made the soil fertile again through his prayers. Some wealthy people had stored up big amounts of wheat in order to sell it very expensively, taking advantage of the famine. Saint Spyridon's prayers destroyed their storages and the wheat was divided fairly to all people. Like Moses, he transformed a snake into gold in order to help a poor man. And after helping him, he changed the gold into a snake again, while glorifying God. He was always willing to help the ones in need, he tried to free a man who had been condemned in death. While walking, he went in front of a river with impetuous waters and thus, he could not pass by. He prayed to God and the water stopped floating in order for him to get through without getting wet.

Christ was acting through him by the power of Holy Spirit and gave Saint Spyridon the power to beat death. After hearing the request of a woman of barbaric origins, Saint Spyridon resuscitated her dead baby that she had put in front of her feet. And then he resuscitated the woman too, who heart broke because of her unexpected joy. When his daughter died, Saint Spyridon leaned in front of her grave and asked her where she had hidden something valuable that another woman had given to her. She replied and then she returned to death inside her grave.
His virtue was lighting up the others and made them feel sorry for their sins. A sinful woman laid down in front of his feet and started crying just like the prostitute did with Christ. Saint Spyridon had compassion, he helped her stand up and told her the same thing that Christ had said that her sins are forgiven and thus, helped her begin a new life.
During the First Ecumenical Council called by Constantine the Great in Nicaea in 325 A.D., Saint Spyridon divided a simple tile into three pieces, fire, water and soil, indicating in the same time that all three of them are components of the tile, without loosing their individuality. As a result, he proved that God is one as a substance, but also is being as three different persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), who are individual. Saint Spyridon countered Arios and one of his followers who could not accept that God is one and three!

After Constantine died, his son Konstantios was very fond of Arian heresy. While being in Antiocheia he became severly ill, without having any chance of getting better. After seeing Saint Spyridon in his sleep, Konstantios invited him to his palace along with his student Saint Trifillios. The moment Saint Spyridon arrived to see the king, he cured him and he advised him to pay attention to his mental health too, since he was in danger of losing the real faith. The king offered him many gifts in order to thank him and Saint Spyridon gave them to his people in Cyprus.

Saint Spyridon lived with expectations of eternal life. He did the divine service as if he was in front of God, along with the choirs of Angels and Saints. One Day, during the liturgy, he was along with his laybrother and he said "Peace be unto all " and the latter listened the choir of Angels to reply "And with thy spirit". Saint Spyridon prayed all the time. Moreover, one day, the candlelamp was about to stop providing light due to lack of oil. And then, Spyridon asked God to give his blessing to the candlelamp and it overflew. That oil was enough to provide light for the whole church for many days.

Saint Spyridon gave his spirit to the Lord in the 12th December, 348 A.D., being 78 years old. His memory is celebrated on this day.

His relic remained incorruptible apart from his right hand. Until the 7th century, it remained in Cyprus. Then, it was taken to Istanbul.

Antonios Novgorod, a russian traveller who wrote around 1200, mentions in his works that he saw Saint Spyridon's relic in the monastery of the Holy Virgin "Odigitria". It was he female monastery of the Holy Virgin who had the most grace. (Theotokos i Kexaritomeni).

Later, the relic was moved to the church of Disciples. The first relevant testimony takes place there by Stephen Novgorod in 1350. Eventually, few months before the fall of Istanbul, in the memorial day of Saint Spyridon, on December 12th 1452, divine liturgy was solemnized in Saint Sophia's church for the union of the Churches with the papal legatus, fond of the latin culture in Florence, Archibishop of Kiev, cardinal Isidoros being prominent. During the ceremony, "the relic of Saint Spyridon whose memory was celebrated,

fell down, and that was considered as a sign that the unification of Churches was innapropriate and Istanbul was ment to fall" (A.Kyrou, Vissarion the Greek, v. B, Athens 1947, p. 13).

In 1453, immediately after the fall of Istanbul, the relic was moved along with that of Sain Theodora the Queen by the priest George Kaloheretis, through Thrace, Macedonia and Epirus to Corfu in 1456.
Initially in Corfu, the relic was placed in St Athanasios's church. Mark, Luke and Philip, sons of George Kaloheretis, inherited the relics. Mark donated his share, St Theodora's relic, in 1483 to the Corfiot society. Luke and Philip inherited Saint Spyridon's relic. They wanted to move it away from Corfu but the Corfiots reacted firmly to their desire and stopped their plans. They conveyed their rights to Philip's daughter, Asimina. When she married with Stamatellos Voulgaris in 1520, she offered him as dowry the holy relic. Since then and until 1959, it belonged to Voulgaris's family.

The relic was moved for a short time to the cathedral of Archangel Michael in Kampielo. In 1528, Stamatellos Voulgaris built St Spyridon's church in the suburb of Saint Rocco area and the relic was moved there. In 1537, during the first siege of Corfu by the Turks, the relic was temporarily moved to Saints Anargiroi church in the Old Fortress. After the siege, it was returned to its church. In 1577, due to fortification works, the church had to be demolished. Then, Saint Spyridon's relic was moved again to the church of Saint Nicolas of the Foreigners in Garitsa. Eventually, in 1589 the built of the present church began and it was most probably completed in 1594. Since then, the relic was moved to that church and it remains there.
In 1967, by Presidential Decree, the holy church of Saint Spyridon in Corfu town was recognised officially as Public Law Entity under the name "Holy Place of Worshipping of Saint Spyridon in Corfu".

Because of saint Spyridon, many difficulties in the island were surpassed. Under the Venetian occupation, the Corfiots survived from illnesses, starvation and the Turkish raid four times. In particular, 1553, saint Spyridon saved the island from starvation. For this reason, the litany of Holy Saturday was established. In 1630, he discharged the island from the plague. As a result, the litany of Palm Sunday was established. In 1673, he intervened and saved the island from the plague for the second time. For this reason, the litany every first Sunday of November was established. Lastly, in 1716 Saint Spyridon discharged the island from the turkish siege. As a result, the litany on the 11th of August was established.
Also, in 1718, Saint Spyridon averted miraculously the Venetian Commander Andrea Pizanis from building a Latin altar inside his church. This miracle is celebrated every year on the 12th of November.
Saint Spyridon did many miracles for people as well. Characteristic example is the cure of Theodoros, a merchant from East, who was blinded completely. Theodore prayed with faith and warmness in his heart in Saint Spyridon's church and Saint Spyridon gave him his eyesight back. The remembrance of this miracle is celebrated on the 13rd of July. Also, others have felt and still feel Saint Spyridon's love and charity. This is proved by the consecrations in his church.

Saint Spyridon is officially called Thaumaturgist by our Church. The numerous consecrations confirm this important charisma that he received from God, and also the large number of churches which are dedicated to him.

He is one of the most eminent and beloved saint for all Christians. He is the beauty of Trimithounta and the wisest cure, the spiritual father and the support of the Corfiots.

Saint Spyridon's presence in Corfu for more than 450 years has shaped morals and traditions, has produced and still produces spiritual movement and a timeless rich ecclesiastical and cultural tradition to the extent that Corfu and Saint Spyridon consist an unbreakable link, a unique identity.