Saint Spyridon was born in Cyprus in the village of Askeia. His parents were simple peasants. So they encouraged the love of labour in their son. Little Spyridon worked as a shepherd and from his early childhood he became remarkable for his virtues. Learning from the best teachers – the righteous men of the Old Testament, in his soul he cultivated the seeds of meekness, coming to resemble Moses, kindness towards travelers, taking after Abraham, and generosity towards the miserable and the poor. In his youth Spyridon avoided the fuss of the city as well as noisy games and entertainments. Far from his home, in the pastures, he dedicated more time to reading psalms and praying. He entrusted all his thoughts and pursuits to the Highest Father. He observed Christ’s dispensations and guarded his spiritual composure.
In his mature age Spyridon became a noble family man. Together with his wife they shared joys and hardships of a family life. They split all the responsibilities as householders and parents, worked really hard, but most importantly, they both carried the memory of God in their hearts. In spite of the sudden death of his beloved companion, Spyridon did not seed sorrow in his heart, but on the contrary he started to serve God even more ardently. He did not give himself a minute of rest – in the morning he grazed goats and sheep and at night he prayed. He divided his income among the poor and the outcast. The saint defeated any passion with his diligence and obedience. He practiced corporal and spiritual feats somewhere far from the eyes of the viewers. For his endless loyalty and multiple virtues God endowed Spyridon with the grace of priesthood, granted him a delightful power to step upon serpents and beat evil forces, and also heal spiritual and physical wounds of people.
The saint became a teacher for the wise, an example of piety and purity of the heart. He was a spiritual father shining in the rays of a great perception of God. Spyridon praised three major virtues – faith, hope and love. Reaching the highest level of the soul purity he was conferred the rank of a bishop of Trimythous.
By virtue of his righteous life, God endowed him with a gift of working wonders. When a terrible drought happened on Cyprus, ruining multiple crops, leading to severe starvation and deaths of a number of people, Spyridon started to ask the Almighty to spare the citizens of Trimythous and send abundant rains. With a prayer on his lips the compassionate pastor saw the sky getting covered with clouds and in a moment it started to rain heavily. The rain did not stop for many days. It seemed that in a while everyone was going to die in a flood. But Christ’s loyal server meekly addressed the Creator again with the words “God, Lord of the Sky, of the Earth and of all creatures, please, give life to those who are begging You for it. It was for the sake of life that I was asking You for water, for the earth to give its harvest after the moderate rain, and not for it to lose all its people being completely flooded. I wanted the human race to avoid starvation and find merry life and not death”. The miracle happened upon the saint’s prayers: God cleared the sky of the clouds and illuminated the earth with bright sunshine. Many people started to share their grain with others to wait through the hungry times.
Nevertheless not every Cypriote could sympathize with those who lost everything during the drought. For quick gain merchants and middlemen kept the prices for grain rather high, thus making a fortune out of people’s grief. One day a poor peasant, who had suffered dramatically from the drought, came to one of such merchants and started to beg with tears in his eyes “Please, lend me some grain, otherwise my family will die from hunger!” – “Only if you pay,” – said the money-grubber toughly. Not having received any help from the greedy merchant, the miserable peasant went to Spyridon. He told the pastor about his complicated lot and merchant’s cruel behavior. The generous saint listened to the poor one and said “ Don’t be upset, God’s child. The one who did not want to save you and your family from hunger in the meanwhile will urge you to take the grain. He will look pathetic in the eyes of people. And your house will be filled with viands. This is what the Holy Spirit has told me! Now go to your family.” At first the peasant thought that the saint’s words were said to comfort the hopeless heart. But the next day he came to believe in God’s grace. That same night a heavy rainfall started which caused the overfilled barn of the greedy merchant to fall down. Grain, barley and beans were thrown all over the place. The owner and his servants started to run around Trimythous and beg the passersby to help them collect the grain. However nobody pitied him. After all, the one who is deaf to the supplications of a pauper will be begging himself and by no one will he be heard. Meanwhile, the wretched peasants started to grab the scattered millet and wheat right from the ground. Among them was that exact miserable peasant. The merchant could not stop the hungry crowd. Having recognized his yesterday’s visitor the merchant pretended to be kind and said that he would give him as much grain as he could carry for the price of a single sheep. But the peasant only laughed at the hypocrite.
Peasants most heartedly praised the Lover of Men and His faithful server Spyridon. The bishop was really modest and open to any foreigner in need. He tried to light the fire of faith in God’s mercy in everyone and thus he opened their eyes on the way of saving their souls. He eagerly welcomed wanderers and gave out food that he earned with his own labour. In any season of the year, at night and during the day, Spyridon received everyone who was tired after a long journey. He served his guests with sincere hospitality and tried to please everyone.
It was during the Lent that a traveler once visited the house of God’s loyal server. Spyridon saw how exhausted and hungry he was. He asked his daughter to wash their guest’s feet and feed him to his heart’s content. But it turned out that they did not have any bread or barley in the house. Then Spyridon asked God for forgiveness and told his daughter to cook pork that they were saving for the end of the fast. When his daughter had cooked the meat he invited the traveler to sit down at the table with him. According to the rules his Grace had to share the meal with the guest. But the wanderer, knowing about the fast, could not dare break it and refused the food saying that he was a Christian. But Spyridon convinced him by Paul’s words “Even more so, you should not reject the food. After all, it is said in the Holy Scripture: unto the pure all things are pure.”
Apart from multiple good-hearted affairs the saint harshly struggled with the destructive influence of idolatry. On the patriarch’s invitation Spyridon came to Macedonia, to a new city of Alexandrea. As soon as the ship moored to the harbor, pastor started to pray inwardly. And when he made his first step onto the ground of Egypt a pagan statue crashed down and turned into dust. Emperor Constantine rejoiced happily when he learned from the laity that the idol had fallen – “Thank God, the bishop of Trimythous arrived!” When the rumour about the miracle spread around the city a lot of people came to believe in the Single Creator of the world and turned to the holy Universal Church. Upon the teachings and prayers of the holiest Grace many towns were saved from the hands of the pagans, and the lands were illuminated with the light of faith in God.
Another terrible force that generous pastor form Trimythous had to face was the teaching of an impious presbyter Arius and his followers. Arius was convinced that Jesus Christ was not eternal. He was the creation of the Father and had a different nature. Christ, according to Arius, was not a true God. At the Council Christ’s loyal servers subjected Arius’s teaching to a thorough analysis. They started to reflect on how to disprove the ungodly heresy. Many philosophers advanced their arguments and fell into their own delusions. Spyridon noticed one of them who got confused in his arguments and took the side of Arius’s followers. Not listening to any of his words the saint addressed him “In the name of Jesus Christ, listen to me, o philosopher! God is One. He created this sky and earth. He created everything that is visible and invisible. He created the man and breathed the Holy Spirit in him. He sent His son born from the Virgin. The Son is from the Father and is of the same nature with Him and is given the same power. They should be honored equally. By His resurrection Christ granted salvation to us, endowed us with eternal life. He will come again and will judge us according to our deeds. Do you believe in this, o philosopher?” Such an ardent saying about the Holy Trinity made an impression on all the people present. Grace of the Holy Spirit prevailed at that moment. The philosopher went mute, fell on his knees and said “I also think that it is like that, and there is nothing else except for what you have just said.” Then the bishop addressed him “If you agree and you see that Christ is a true God, accept the teaching of our faith and reject the heresy.” And the philosopher saw the saving grace in the words of the arch-priest of Trimythous. God Himself was talking with his mouth. Subsequently, the orator convinced his friends and many Arius’s followers to reject the heresy that was ruining their souls. The Council adopted the Creed and the emperor approved it. Having done honors to the miracle-worker, Constantine let him return home.
On his arrival to the mother-land some grave news was waiting for Spyridon. His daughter Irene had passed away. She had lived her life in virginity and piety and she was a kind helper to her father. Shortly before her death one lady gave some jewelry into righteous Irene’s charge. The saint knew nothing about it and about the place where his daughter could have hidden it. With unshakeable faith and complete hope of God he went to his daughter’s grave, and God let Irene wake up upon his prayers. Thus she was able to tell her father where she had put the treasure.
Once the saint saved a devout Christian and his loyal friend from the death penalty. Evil and envious people accused the honest man of the crime that he had not committed. The ruler of Cyprus took a lie for the truth and signed the death sentence. The generous elder quickly got ready and hurried to the rescue of the poor prisoner. But the journey from Trimythous to Constantinople was not short. At that time a local river overflew and flooded vast areas and did not let travelers cross it. Then the saint, who was in a hurry, came up to the water and told it “Christ enjoins you to stop your flow for me to bring rescue to my friend that I have asked from my Lord.” Suddenly, the river parted and uncovered dry land in front of the travelers. After they had crossed the river the saint stayed to tame the impounded waters. Having reached the city earlier than him the travelers told everyone about the miracles that had happened. The ruler of the island also learned about it, and being loyal, released the saint’s friend at once, and acquitted him of all charges.
Spyridon visited many towns and everywhere he was most welcome, respected and honoured. People knew about his kind heart and his gift of a prophet. They loved, thanked and praised him. However, the wise archbishop tried to avoid secular fame by all means. Never did he have any predisposition towards the passion of praise and flattery in his heart. Spyridon protected the Kingdom of God inside of him. And he used to say the following about praise “Any kind of praise deprives the soul of steadfastness. It melts from fire like wax and can die from pride and vanity.”
The beloved father fed not only laymen with the sweetest honey of Christ’s teachings, but also God’s pastors. According to church historians great mentor Spyridon cared a lot for a strict observance of church regulations and for the inviolability of each word of the Holy Scripture. Spyridon set an example of an ardent service to the holy teaching for many disciple pastors. He had reverent attitude towards Christ’s commandments and any God’s saying was true and absolute for the archbishop. He passed important parting words to his compatriots – to cultivate the highest virtue – love of God and their neighbor. People and his followers listened to his words and tried to carry out his admonitions in every way possible. Many people followed in his footsteps and nurtured virtues in their hearts. Soon the saint miracle-maker gave his soul to the angels, but in people’s memory he is still alive and he still works wonders upon sincere prayers. All the course of life of Saint Spyridon of Trimythous passed by word of mouth up to today tells us about the possibility of victory over your passions by the means of sincere love of God.
Every year people of Corfu organize a solemn celebration on the day of saint Spyridon’s decease. For three days (from the evening of December 11 (24) till the evening of December 13 (26) the shrine with the saint’s relics is put on a special place near the iconostasis – to the right of the local icon of the Savior – for worship and prayer.
Перевод Анастасии Курносовой