The Life of Our Father Among the Saints Spyridon, Bishop of Tremithus

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.

THE TWELFTH DAY OF THE MONTH OF DECEMBER: The Life of Our Father Among the Saints Spyridon, Bishop of Tremithus

Saint Spyridon, the God-bearing Father of the Church, the great defender of Corfu and the boast of all the Orthodox Christians, had Cyprus as his homeland. He was simple in manner and humble of heart, and was a shepherd of sheep. When he was joined to a wife, he begat of her a daughter whom they named Irene. After his wife's departure from this life, he was appointed Bishop of Tremithus, and thus he became also a shepherd of rational sheep. When the First Ecumenical Council was assembled in Nicaea, he also was present, and by means of his most simple words stopped the mouths of the heretic Arians who were wise in their own conceit. By the Divine grace which dwelt in him, he wrought such great wonders (miracles) that he received the surname 'Wonderworker.' So it is that, having tended to God, he reposed in the Lord about the year 350 A.D., leaving to his country his sacred relics as a consolation and source of healing for the faithful.

About the middle of the 7th century, because of the incursions made by the barbarians at that time, his sacred relics were taken to Constantinople, where they remained, being honored by the Emperors themselves. But before the fall of Constantinople, which took place on May 29th, 1453, a certain priest named George Kalokhairetes, the parish priest of the church where the Saint's sacred relics, as well as those of Saint Theodora the Empress, were kept, took them away on account of the impending peril. Travelling by way of Serbia, he came as far as Arta in Epirus, a region in Western Greece opposite to the isle of Corfu. From there, while the misfortunes of the Christian people were increasing with every day, he passed over to Corfu about the year 1460. The holy relics of Saint Theodora were given to the people of Corfu; but those of Saint Spyridon remain to this day, according to the rights of inheritance, the most precious treasure of the priest's own descendants, and they continue to be a staff for the faithful in Orthodoxy, and a supernatural wonder for those that behold him; for even after the passage of 1,500 years, they have remained incorrupt, and even the flexibility of his flesh has been preserved. Truly wondrous is God in His Saints! (Psalm 67:35). (Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America)

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn in First Mode

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 for all.

Kontakion Hymn in Second Mode

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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MORE ABOUT THE LIFE AND MIRACLES OF SAINT SPYRIDON

So greatly did he please God that while still a layman he was granted the gift of working miracles. Because he could heal every disease and expel demons by a word, he was consecrated Bishop of Tremithus.

Once there was no rain on Cyprus for a long time, and this drought caused famine. A multitude of people perished from starvation, and a second Elijah was needed who could open the heavens by his entreaties. Such a man was Saint Spyridon, who, seeing the tribulation that had befallen the people and filled with pity for the dying, turned to our Good God in fervent prayer. Immediately the sky filled with clouds and plentiful fain fell, soaking the ground for many days. When the Saint prayed again, the rain ceased and the sun shone once more. Soon the earth produced its fruits: grain sprouted in the fields, gardens were filled with vegetables, and the vines were heavy with grapes. The famine came to an end, and through the prayers of God's favorite Spyridon, there was an abundance of food.

A virtuous man, a friend of the blessed one, was slandered before the city's judge, imprisoned, and condemned to execution though innocent. When Saint Spyridon learned this, he determined to rescue his friend from an undeserved death. At that time there was flooding throughout the land, and a stream which lay across Saint Spyridon's path overflowed its banks and could not be forded. Calling to mind Joshua, son of Nun, who crossed the Jordan dry-shod when it was in flood, and certain that God was no less omnipotent than in times past, the wonder-worker issued this order to the waters: "The Master of all commands you to halt and permit me to cross, so that I may deliver a man from death!" At once the torrent returned to its course, and a dry path opened for Saint Spyridon and those accompanying him. Several of his companions hurried on to inform the judge of the Saint's approach and of the miracle he had worked on the way, and the judge freed the condemned man, sending him to Saint Spyridon unharmed.

The godly one was clairvoyant and knew men's sins. Once, while on a journey, he was resting at the home of a hospitable man, when a woman who was enslaved to the passions of the flesh and was a secret fornicator wished to wash his feet. Perceiving her sins, he rebuked her, "Do not touch me, woman!" He spoke like this not because he despised the woman (for how could a disciple of the Lord Who ate and drank with publicans and sinners scorn transgressors?) but because he wanted her to reflect on her wretched state and to feel shame for her impure thoughts and deeds. When the woman persisted in attempting to wash his feet, he relented and began to exhort her in a meek and loving manner, reminding her of her sins and urging her to repent. The woman was amazed and overcome by fear, because even her most secret transgressions were not concealed from the clairvoyant eyes of the man of God. Filled with shame and contrition, she fell at the Saint's feet and washed them, not with water, but with tears, in emulation of the harlot in the Gospel, confessing her deeds openly. The Saint repeated to her with compassion the words of the Lord: "Take courage, daughter, Thy sins are forgiven, and, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more." From that moment the woman completely reformed her life, serving as a good example for many.

At the First Ecumenical Council, during one of his many disputes with the Arians concerning the Divinity, our holy father Saint Spyridon demonstrated the Holy Trinity's unity in the following manner. Taking a brick in his hand, he squeezed it. Flame shot upward, water fell to the ground, and in his fist only dust remained. "The brick was a single object," explained the Saint, "but consisted of three elements: fire, water and earth. Similarly there are Three Hypostases in the Holy Trinity, but only a single Divine Nature."

While the Lord's favorite was on his way to the holy Ecumenical Council, he stopped to spend the night at an inn. While he was there, hateful Arian heretics arrived and cut off the heads of the horses on which he and his servant were traveling. At daybreak the servant saw what the heretics had done and informed Saint Spyridon of the wicked deed. Putting his trust in the Lord, the Saint ordered the servant to place the horses' heads against their bodies. Now one of the horses was white, the other black. The servant obeyed at once, but put the head of the white horse against the black horse's body and the head of the white horse against the white horse's body. As soon as he did so, both horses came to life and stood up. Saint Spyridon continued on his way, and everyone he passed was puzzled seeing a black horse with a white head and a white horse with a black head. The heretics meanwhile slipped away, utterly confounded.

One evening, the divine Spyridon went to Vespers at the church in Tremithus. It happened that no one was present except the clergy. He ordered that the candles and lamps be lit, then stood before the altar, exulting in spirit. At the appointed time he exclaimed, "Peace be unto all!" Since there was no congregation to answer the blessing, a mighty choir of voices from on high cried out, "And with thy spirit!" The sound of the choir was indescribably sweet, majestic, and harmonious; more delightful than any human singing. After each petition the words "Lord, have mercy!" were chanted by the same heavenly voices, terrifying the deacon. Even people far away could hear the wondrous music, and as they approached, the chanting grew louder, causing their hearts to rejoice. When they entered the building, however, they saw no one except the holy hierarch and a few clergymen, and the singing ceased, which greatly astonished them.

On another occasion, when the Saint was standing in church at Vespers (Esperinos), there was not enough oil for the lamp in the choir, and the flame began to sputter. The Saint was worried that the flame would go out, interrupting the chanting and leaving incomplete the daily cycle of services. But the Lord, Who hearkens unto those who fear Him, filled the lamp to overflowing just as he had filled the widow's vessels in Elisha's day, and the servants had to rush and bring pots to place underneath to catch the excess. This surplus of oil betokened the abundance of the grace of God which filled the heart of Christ's hierarch.

When the work of the glorious Council was concluded and the heretic Arius has been condemned and expelled from the Church, all the Holy Fathers, including Saint Spyridon, returned to their homes. At that time the Saint's daughter Irene died. Having passed the days of youth in pure virginity, she was deemed worthy to enter the bridal chamber of heaven. After her death a woman came in tears to the Saint, saying that she had entrusted to Irene a number of golden ornaments for safekeeping. Because the girl had expired without warning, no one knew where to look for them. Saint Spyridon himself searched the house, but found nothing. Then, seeing the woman weeping and lamenting, he took pity on her and went to his daughter's grave, accompanied by servants. Like Christ crying to Lazarus he called out to the maiden as though she were alive, "Irene, my daughter! Where are the gold ornaments entrusted to your keeping?"

Rising like one wakened from a sound sleep, she replied, "I hid them at home, my lord," and described their exact location; whereupon the Saint ordered her, "Back to sleep, daughter, until the Lord of all calls for you at the General Resurrection." Fear came upon those present, and they marveled at the wondrous miracle. The Saint found the hidden items at the place indicated and gave them to the woman. (Source: The Great Collection of The Lives of the Saints).

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DIVINE SERVICES DECEMBER 12TH

Orthros (Matins) at 9:00 a.m.
Divine Liturgy at 10:00 a.m.

Location: Saint Nektarios Chapel

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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!"-- Saint John Chrysostom

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

+Father George