Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Life of St. Spyridon the Wonderworker

Icon depicting the Dormition of St. Spyridon with numerous scenes from his life (http://194.177.217.107/gr/showpic.asp?picpath=56_8bit_PE-IC9bis-DS2-Q2&curtable=icons&currecord=56&vorder=1&vmode=first)

Greetings!

Tomorrow (December 12th) if the feast of St. Spyridon, Bishop of Trimythous, the Wonderworker. He is one of the most beloved Saints of the Orthodox Church, the Protector of Kerkyra (Corfu), Cyprus, Piraeus, potters, and many who bear his name. His life is filled with love, humility, and the Grace of Christ, and is worth reading. The OCA website has an excellent and thorough account of his life: http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?SID=4&ID=1&FSID=103526.
  
For another very thorough account of his life that I just came across, see: http://www.saint-spyridon.com/archive_spyridon.htm.
  
Below I'll include a few miracles from the life of St. Spyridon that (at first I thought) weren't included above version (amateurly translated and summarized from: http://www.synaxaristis.googlepages.com/12δεκεμβριου)
  

St. Spyridon Bishop of Trimythous, the Wonderworker (Icon courtesy of www.eikonografos.com used with permission)
  
"Once, the bishop, [St. Spyridon] after a long journey teaching his people, he became tired, and went to rest in the home of one of the faithful. Hearing this, many people from neighboring houses at first, and later from the whole community ran out to meet and to get the blessing of the Saint. Among the crowds was a woman who was sinner, who also came to see the saint. Some even fell down below, to embrace his feet. With the Grace of the Holy Spirit, as soon as the Saint looked at her, he immediately understood her sin. Without anyone else hearing, in a sweet and humble manner, he whispered to the woman: «Lady, don't touch me.»

She insisted, however. And then the Saint with austerity revealed the face of the sin of all. The woman was in awe, and with a broken heart and tears she began to seek the mercy of God. Before this repentance, the loving father said with emotion those words once said by the Lord to such a sinner: «Take heart, o daughter. Your sins are forgiven you.» Go forth and be careful in the future. With his way, the Saint helped the woman who was a sinner to repent. He also gave a lesson to all. Only sincere repentance cleanses and restores the soul of man its honored position, to be a child of God."

"Once the saint, accompanied by his friend and pupil of Trifyllio, the first bishop of Nicosia (then Lidras), set out for Kyrenia for some task. The road passed by Kythrea, and at the time it was spring and nature around was more beautiful than a painting. The trees were putting forth flowers. The lovely birds sung sweetly and flew from branch to branch. Mountain flocks were grazing on the rich grass with so many flowers, with the aroma that if seemed to glorify the Creator. They were traveling along the way slowly, because it was an uphill path, and at some juncture Trifyllios was admiring the verdant panoramic plain, which stretched beneath their feet, began to have certain thoughts:

What good, he was thinking mentally, to have for my bishopric some of the buildings located in this place. They would give me a good income to face so many needs.

St. Spyridon the Wonderworker (http://bizantinum.livejournal.com/68782.html)
  
-What are you thinking, my brother? St. Spyridon said. Why let your mind be occupied with such vain things at this time?

-My Geronta [Elder], were you reading my thoughts?

-My Brother, «For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come» (Hebrews 13:14). We don't have here on earth a permanent and lasting home and city, with deep longing we desire the future, the celestial Jerusalem. Vain are all earthly goods. In your heart always have one desire. To aquire the heavens, the eternal good things. All the earthly goods are provisional and deceptive. Today is ours. Tomorrow will be owned by someone else. And never desire? [Και ουδέποτε τίνος.?]

-My Father, forgive me. I was defeated by visions. Prayer to our Lord to forgive me.

-Yes, my son, be careful. The devil uses the most innocent things, to tempt us and scandalize us. Instead of visions, leave our minds to glorify the Creator, Who made everything for our love and happiness, instead of yearning forcefully to seek vain things and to seek to obtain, to make our buildings? [να τα κάμει κτήμα του?]

How much wisdom is in the words of the Divinely-illumined Bishop. Instead of man thinking to hymn and glorify his Maker and Fashioner before the majesty of the Almighty Creator, as one generally does, one yearns to acquire and enjoy the goods of the earth."

Two other miracles I think are worth mentioning from his life, also because they are mentioned in his apolytikion below.
  

St. Spyridon Bishop of Trimythous, the Wonderworker (Icon courtesy of www.eikonografos.com used with permission)
  
"One day, another poor family knocked at the door of the Bishop. They approached the Saint with tears and asked for a loan. He wanted to pay a debt to a rich man who threatened to sell their home. But where would the Saint find that much to give? The pain that gave rise to bitter tears of the poor family, torn by grief, struck the loving bishop, and he went for a walk. Suddenly there was in front of them a snake slithering through the green. Like lightning, the rod of Aaron struck the mind of the Saint, which at the palace of Pharaoh fell to earth and became a snake. «As it is, Lord, may this snake become gold for this poor family, he said slowly. Yes, Lord. Let it become gold to help this miserable creature of Yours», and again lifted his hand. The snake stopped, and the Saint bent down and picked it up. In his hands the disgusting serpent was transformed and now show forth as gold.

-Take it, son, said the Saint with kindness. Take it and do your work. And the poor man full of joy took the gold and ran to give it to the rich creditor. When the man, with the help of God, paid the debt, the lender returned the golden pledge. The poor man took it back with tears of gratitude and returned it to the Saint. Once he received it in his hands, he turned his eyes towards to heaven, glorified God for His infinite charity, and then threw it to the earth. And miracle of miracles! The gold became a snake again and and left ahead of them."

"When the saint returned to Cyprus [after the 1st Eccumenical Council], he learned with great sadness that his daughter Irene had died. The faithful bishop accepted this trial with exemplary patience and endurance. A few days later a woman came to him with tears and asked for a precious thing, a jewel. It was given to his daughter to watch shortly before she died. The saint arose and carefully searched throughout the house to find the missing object. Unfortunately, it was not found anywhere. Then without any hesitation he went to the grave of his daughter. When he arrived, he offered a fervent prayer, and then, after he bowed over the grave, he asked the dead daughter, as if she were alive, to tell him where she had put the object. Immediately a voice from the depths of the tomb was heard to say:

-My Father, I have it hidden in that certain place. Then the Saint said: -Sleep, my daughter, in peace. Sleep until the day when the Lord will raise us all in the General Resurrection. Those who were there were shaken and were left speechless. They reflected on the strength with which the All-good God endowed this simple but holy bishop. The good shepherd, who would do everything for the benefit and service of Christians."
  

St. Spyridon Bishop of Trimythous, the Wonderworker (Icon courtesy of www.eikonografos.com used with permission)
   
Apolytikion of St. Spyridon - Mode 1. The stone had been secured.
At the first of the Synods, you emerged as the champion, * and wonder-worker, our God-bearing Father Spyridon. * Wherefore, you addressed the dead one in the grave, * and a serpent you changed to gold. * And while chanting* in service your sacred prayers,* you had angels concelebrating, O most Holy One.* Glory to Christ who glorified you,* glory to Him who crowned you,* glory to the One who works through you,* healings for everyone.
(taken from Fr. Seraphim Dedes: http://sgpm.goarch.org/ematins/bilingual/Dec12.pdf)


St. Spyridon working the miracle with the brick to illustrate the Holy Trinity, at the First Ecumenical Council (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_Ir0BxevvGe4/TRZi2FXJuxI/AAAAAAAABBI/pnTjtsSKQTY/s1600/Keramida-ag-Spyridonos.png)
         
St. Spyridon, intercede for us!
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

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