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Saint Spyridon the Wonderworker, Bishop of Tremithus

December 12, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

St. Spyridon of Tremithus was born toward the end of the third century on the island of Cyprus. He was a shepherd, and had a wife and children. He was generous with all he owned, meeting the needs of his neighbors and the homeless. For this, the Lord rewarded him with the gift of wonderworking. He healed those who were incurably sick and cast out demons. After the death of his wife, during the reign of Constantine the Great (306-337), he was made Bishop of the city Tremithus on the island of Cyprus. As a bishop, St. Spyridon continued to be a shepherd and also minister to the needs of those entrusted to his care. He was especially known for his deeds of charity.

Bishop Spyridon was one of the many saints (along with St. Nicholas of Myra) who were present at the great First Ecumenical Council in the year 325 A.D. The meeting was called because a leader in the church, named Arius, was teaching doctrine that contradicted the teachings of the Apostles. While St. Spyridon was there, he entered into a discussion with a Greek philosopher who believed that Arius was correct in his beliefs. This is a portion of what St. Spyridon said to him:

“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 Word and His Spirit. The 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 with the Father, and equal to Him in authority and honor. We believe this without any sly rationalizations, for it is impossible to grasp this mystery by human reason.”

St. Spyridon was able to defend the faith so clearly and simply that this philosopher changed his mind, agreed with the Saint and later received Holy Baptism. Then the philosopher turned to his companions and said, “Listen! Until now my rivals have presented their arguments, and I was able to refute their proofs with other proofs. But instead of proofs from reason, the words of this Elder are filled with some sort of special power, and no one can refute them, since it is impossible for man to oppose God. If any of you thinks as I do now, let him believe in Christ and join me in following this man, for God Himself speaks through his lips.”

During his time at this important council, St. Spyridon explained the unity of the Holy Trinity in a remarkable way. He took a brick in his hand and squeezed it. At that instant flames shot up from it, water dripped on the ground, and only dust remained in the hands of the wonderworker. 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.”

It is plain to see why St. Spyridon became known as a wonderworker. Here are just some of the many things that happened during his lifetime:

  • Through his prayers, drought was replaced by abundant rains, and endless rain was replaced by fair weather.
  • Through his prayers, the sick were healed and demons cast out.
  • A woman once came to him with a dead child in her arms, asking him to intercede for her. He prayed, and the infant was restored to life. The mother was so overcome with joy that she collapsed onto the ground, dead. But through the prayer of the saint, she was restored to life.
  • Another time,  St. Spyridon was hurrying to save a friend who had been falsely accused and sentenced to death. The saint came upon a stream that was flooded and he couldn’t cross it. So he commanded the water: “Halt! For the Lord of all the world commands that you permit me to cross so that a man may be saved.” God answered his prayer and the water level went down so that he could cross the stream. The judge who had condemned St. Spyridon’s friend was so amazed by the miracle that had occurred that he received St. Spyridon with honor and set his friend free.
  • On another occasion, he went into an empty church and ordered that the candles be lit, and then he began the service. When he said, “Peace be unto all,” both he and the deacon heard from above the resounding of a great multitude of voices saying, “And with thy spirit.” This choir was majestic and more sweetly melodious than any human choir. To each petition of the litanies, the invisible choir sang, “Lord, have mercy.” Attracted by the church singing, the people who lived nearby hurried toward the church. As they got closer and closer, the wondrous singing filled their ears and gladdened their hearts. But when they entered the church, they saw no one but Bishop Spyridon and several church servers, and they no longer heard the singing which had greatly astonished them.

  • St. Spyridon was known to many for his generous hospitality to strangers, just as Abraham in the Old Testament [read Genesis 18:1-16]. One time, at the start of the Great Fast, a stranger knocked at his door. Seeing that the traveler was very exhausted, St. Spyridon said to his daughter, “Wash the feet of this man, so he may recline to dine.” But since it was Lent, they did not have the kinds of food in the house to provide a big feast. His daughter replied that there was no bread or flour in the house. Then St. Spyridon, apologizing to his guest, asked his daughter to take some meat from their pantry and cook it. After seating the stranger at table,  St. Spyridon began to eat, urging that man to do the same. When the latter refused, calling himself a Christian, the saint instructed, “It is not proper to refuse this, for the Word of God proclaims, ‘Unto the pure all things are pure’.”
  • The saint was known for his charity and generosity. After gathering the harvest, it was his custom to take some of it to those who had no money or food, and some of it to those who owed money to other men. He did not set aside any for himself, but simply showed these people the door to his storeroom, so that they could come and get provisions anytime. In this way, each could take as much as he needed when he had a need, and could later pay it back in the same way, without records or accountings.

  • St. Spyridon understood the command to love your enemies. There were some thieves who planned to steal his sheep. They broke into the sheepfold(a place where a shepherd could keep his sheep safe and protected. Sometimes the walls were built with large stones and there was a gate) at night, but once inside they were tied up by some invisible power. When morning came, the saint went to his flock and, seeing the tied-up robbers, he prayed and then untied them. He spoke to them for a long while and he encouraged them to leave their path of sin and earn money by working hard (instead of stealing sheep). Then he gave them one of the sheep and said kindly, “Take this for your trouble, so that you did not spend a sleepless night in vain.”
  • In the city of Alexandria in Egypt, there were many, many idols and pagan temples. The Patriarch there was very concerned about this and called a special meeting of the bishops to discuss what to do about it. Through their prayers, all the idols fell down – except one. This particular idol was greatly worshiped by the pagans there. It was shown to the Patriarch in a vision that this idol could only be broken by St. Spyridon of Tremithus. The Council sent a message to the saint and urged him to come to Alexandria. St. Spyridon set sail and, the moment the ship touched shore and the saint stepped out on land, the idol in Alexandria with all its offerings turned to dust. This was then reported to the Patriarch and all the bishops.

St. Spyridon lived his earthly life in righteousness and sanctity, and prayerfully surrendered his soul to the Lord. His relics repose on the island of Corfu, Greece, in a church named after him. St. Spyridon is believed to have saved this island when the Turks attacked it in 1716.

Categories: Lives of Saints
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