St. Spyridon the Wonderworker of Trymithous

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.

HYMN OF PRAISE: Saint Spyridon the Wonderworker, Bishop of Trymithous

"Star of Cyprus and luminary of the Church, Holy Spyridion, defender of the Faith, Simple as a child, innocent as a child-By his simplicity, he shines on the world. What need is there for many words when speaking the Truth? Utterly simple is God's Truth: The Creator is One, in the Holy Trinity, In the Trinity, Father, Son and Spirit. The Son descended to the sinful earth And received flesh from the Pure Virgin In order to save men, because He is the Lover of Mankind. He performed many miracles By Divine power, for He is Almighty. To mankind He gave a new rule, The rule of love and the rule of faith. Glorified, He now sits in heaven, And gathers the fruit of His labor Are holy men and holy women. He is the Rock of mankind's salvation; Outside this Rock there is no salvation. O Spyridon, O illuminator, O soldier of Christ, pray for us.

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THE LIFE OF SAINT SPYRIDON THE WONDERWORKER BISHOP OF TRYMITHOUS (Feast Day - December 12)
By Saint Nikolai Velimirovich

The island of Cyprus was both the birthplace and the place where this glorious Saint served the Church. Saint Spyridon was born of simple parents, farmers, and he remained simple and humble until his death. He married in his youth and had children, but when his wife died he devoted himself completely to the service of God.

Because of his exceptional piety, he was chosen as Bishop of the city of Trymithous. Yet even as a Bishop he did not change his simple way of living, handling his livestock and cultivating his land himself. He used very little of the fruits of his labor for himself; instead, he distributed a greater share to the needy.

He manifested great miracles (wonders or Gk. Thavmata) by God's power: he brought down rain in time of drought, stopped the flow of a river, raised several people from the dead, healed Emperor Constantius of a grave illness, saw and heard Angels of God, foresaw future events, discerned the secrets of men's hearts, converted many to the True Faith, and did much else.

He took part in the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea [325 A.D.], and he brought many heretics back to Orthodoxy by his simple and clear expositions of the Faith as well as by his mighty miracles.

He was so simply dressed that once, when he wanted to enter the imperial court at the invitation of the Emperor, a soldier, thinking that he was a beggar, struck him on the face. Meek and guileless, Saint Spyridon turned the other cheek to him.

He glorified God through many miracles, and was of benefit, not only to many individuals but also to the whole Church of God. He entered into rest in the Lord in the year 348 A.D. His miracle-working relics rest on the island of Corfu (Kerkyra), and even today they glorify God with many Wonders.

REFLECTION FROM HIS LIFE

Absolutely nothing will help us if we are not lenient toward the weaknesses of men and forgive them. For how can we hope that God will forgive us if we do not forgive others?

Saint Spyridon once sold a hundred goats to a merchant at an agreed price, and the Saint told the buyer to lay down the money. The buyer, knowing that Saint Spyridon himself never counted money, handed over enough money for ninety-nine goats and hid the money for one. Saint Spyridon then counted out a hundred goats for him. But when the merchant and his servants drove off the goats, one of them returned bleating. He drove it off, but it returned again. And so the goat continually returned to the enclosure, not wanting to go with the other goats. The Saint then whispered into the merchant's ear: "Observe, my son: this animal is not doing this in vain. Did you perhaps withhold her price? The merchant became ashamed and acknowledged his sin. As soon as he paid the amount he had concealed, the goat immediately joined the other goats.

On another occasion, some thieves entered Saint Spyridon's sheepfold. When they had seized as many sheep as they wanted, they tried to leave the sheepfold, but an invisible force nailed them to the ground, and they were unable to move. At dawn, the holy Bishop came to his sheepfold. Seeing the thieves, he reproached them mildly and instructed them to strive in the future to live by their own labors and not by thievery. He then took a sheep and gave it to them; saying, "Take this for your trouble, so that your all-night vigil not be in vain," and he dismissed them in peace.

Saint Spyridon was a protector of the poor, a father of orphans, a teacher of sinners. And he had such purity and holiness that he was give the grace from above to work many miracles, which is why he is called "the Wonderworker" in Greek "Ο Θαυματουργός". With his prayers he would gather the clouds and it would rain on the dry earth, he healed the sick, and he punished deceptive people, as he did with certain black marketers for whom he tore down their storage barns in which they kept the wheat even though the people were dying of hunger, and they were crushed together with the wheat. And despite this he lived in such poverty that when a poor man went to him for help to pay a debt, he had nothing to give him, and by a miracle he made a snake that was in the area into gold, gave it to the poor man, he melted it, and paid off his debt. Another time a cataclysm occurred and the rivers flooded the area, but when Spyridon prayed, the waters pulled back and the land that was flooded dried up.

Throughout his whole life he did not cease to perform miracles. The greatest was that of the resurrection of his dead daughter who arose from her tomb and gave witness to the place she had left some money which belonged to another woman, and afterwards she fell back asleep. Another time a woman whose child just died went to the Saint, and implored him with many tears to resurrect him, so accustomed were the people to the miracles of the Saint. And he resurrected him through his prayers. When the mother saw the child alive, the same died out of her great joy. And Saint Spyridon resurrected the mother as well.

When he conducted the Divine Liturgy, Angels stood around him which many of the pious Christians saw with their own eyes; and when he said, "Peace be to all" the Angels responded "And with your spirit" instead of the chanters. And he was showered in supernatural Light.

He reached deep old age in such an Angelic state shepherding his reasonable sheep, and ascended to the Lord. His holy relics for a time remained in Trymithous and from there went to Constantinople where they placed him in the Church of the Holy Apostles in which the holy relics of many Saints were kept. During the Turkish enslavement they fell into the hands of a pious Christian named Boulgari and he with great effort brought them to Albania hidden in sacks, and from there crossed over to the island of Kerkyra in a kayak. The Venetians kept them and since then he is found on that island, untouched by the weather, after all that they have endured 1600 years since his falling asleep. In his Kouvouklion the Saint stands upright, hands crossed, dressed in liturgical dress, and they bring him out in procession twice a year. The people of Kerkyra hold his sacred shrine with great reverence and regard it a treasure of their island.

In Orthodox hagiography [iconography] Saint Spyridon is depicted in old age with a turned nose and with a forked short white beard, wearing a skoufi. The skoufi is strange, like it is Chinese, pointed at the tip. He is never drawn without a skoufi. Except for icons on planks of wood or in other walls of the church, he is often drawn in the Holy Altar with the other great hierarchs Saint Basil the Great, Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Gregory the Theologian under the Platytera (the Virgin who is more spacious than the heavens). On the paper which he holds, it is written: "To You we offer this reasonable and bloodless sacrifice."

According to the witness of church historians, Saint Spyridon participated in the sessions of the First Ecumenical Council in the year 325 A.D. At the Council, the Saint entered into a dispute with a Greek philosopher who was defending the Arian heresy. The power of Saint Spyridon's plain, direct speech showed everyone the importance of human wisdom before God's Wisdom. "Listen, philosopher, to what I tell you. There is one God Who created man from dust. He has ordered all things, both visible and invisible, by His Logos (Word) and His Spirit. The Logos (Word) is the Son of God, who came down upon the earth on account of our sins. He was born of a Virgin, He lived among men, and suffered and died for our salvation, and then He arose from the dead, and He has resurrected the human race with Him. We believe that He is one in essence (consubstantial) with the Father, and equal to Him in authority and honor. We believe this without sly rationalizations, for it is impossible to grasp this mystery by human reason."

At this Great Council, Saint Spyridon displayed the unity of the Holy Trinity in a remarkable way. He took a brick in his hand and squeezed it. At that instant fire shot up from it, water dripped on the ground, and only dust remained in the hands of the Wonderworker. "There was only one brick," Saint Spyridon said, "but it was composed of three elements. In the Holy Trinity there are three Persons, but only one God."

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. First Tone

O Father, God-bearer, Spyridon, you were proven a champion and Wonder Worker of the First Ecumenical Council. You spoke to the girl in the grave and turned the serpent to gold. And, when chanting your prayers, most sacred One, Angels ministered with you. Glory to Him Who glorified you; glory to Him Who crowned you; glory to Him Who, through you, works healing to

all.

Kontakion Hymn. Second Tone

Wounded by your love for Christ, O holy One, your mind given wings by the radiance of the Spirit, you put the practice of theory into deeds, becoming a sacred altar, O Chosen by God, and praying for the divine illumination of all.

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A personal note: Saint Spyridon was and still is the Patron and Protector Saint of the town of Zaharo in Peloponnesos, Greece, where I was born. I was only four years old in 1947, when a battle erupted to take control of the town by the communist troops. My parents who were most faithful and pious, fearing of a stray bullet, prayed for guidance, and then, made a make-shift shelter with the furniture of the house, and all of us took cover under there. This shelter was set up deliberately by my parents at the corner where our holy icons and vigil light was, and along with all the other icons, was the holy icon of Saint Spyridon the Wonderworker. My parents entreated the Saint to protect our family from this great danger. Very early in the morning the planes came and bombed the town. One of the houses that received a direct hit was my house with us in it. The entire house was obliterated, and my family and I, were buried under the rubble for hours. By the grace of God, and the holy intercessions of Saint Spyridon, the miracle took place, and we were all saved from death. That led my family to leave the town and to live in Athens for a number of years. And again by the help of the Almighty God and Saint Spyridon, we were able to immigrate to our beloved new country of the United States, and specifically to Chicago, where I grew up. I, therefore, would like to add, our family's miracle to the many miracles of Saint Spyridon the Thavmatourgos (Wonderworker). Our family was, and still is, very grateful, to this great Saint of our Holy Orthodox Church.

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MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU

The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

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Glory Be To God For All Things!

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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George