The Advent Journey With the Saints: Saint Spyridon of Tremithus

Saturday 12/245 December: Saint Spyridon of Tremithus

Saint Spyridon of Tremithus was born towards the end of the third century on the island of Cyprus. He was a shepherd, and had a wife and children. He used all his substance for the needs of his neighbors and the homeless, for which the Lord rewarded him with a 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 Tremithus, Cyprus. As a bishop, the saint did not alter his manner of life, but combined pastoral service with deeds of charity.

According to the witness of Church historians, Saint Spyridon participated in the sessions of the First Ecumenical Council in the year 325. 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 God’s wisdom before human 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 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 (consubstantial) 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.”

As a result of their discussion, the opponent of Christianity became the saint’s zealous defender and later received holy Baptism. After his conversation with Saint Spyridon, 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.”

At this 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.”

The saint cared for his flock with great love. Through his prayers, drought was replaced by abundant rains, and incessant rains were replaced by fair weather. Through his prayers the sick were healed and demons cast out.

A woman once came up to him with a dead child in her arms, imploring the intercession of the saint. He prayed, and the infant was restored to life. The mother, overcome with joy, collapsed lifeless. Through the prayers of the saint of God, the mother was restored to life.

Another time, hastening to save his friend, who had been falsely accused and sentenced to death, the saint was hindered on his way by the unanticipated flooding of a stream. The saint 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.” The will of the saint was fulfilled, and he crossed over happily to the other shore. The judge, apprised of the miracle that had occurred, received Saint Spyridon with esteem and set his friend free.

Similar instances are known from the life of the saint. Once, he went into an empty church, and ordered that the lampadas and 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 hastened towards it. As they got closer and closer to the church, the wondrous singing filled their ears and gladdened their hearts. But when they entered into the church, they saw no one but the bishop and several church servers, and they no longer heard the singing which had greatly astonished them.

Saint Simeon Metaphrastes (November 9), the author of his Life, likened Saint Spyridon to the Patriarch Abraham in his hospitality. Sozomen, in his Church History, offers an amazing example from the life of the saint of how he received strangers. One time, at the start of the Forty-day Fast, a stranger knocked at his door. Seeing that the traveller was very exhausted, Saint Spyridon said to his daughter, “Wash the feet of this man, so he may recline to dine.” But since it was Lent there were none of the necessary provisions, for the saint “partook of food only on certain days, and on other days he went without food.” His daughter replied that there was no bread or flour in the house. Then Saint Spyridon, apologizing to his guest, ordered his daughter to cook a salted ham from their larder. After seating the stranger at table, he began to eat, urging that man to do the same. When the latter refused, calling himself a Christian, the saint rejoined, “It is not proper to refuse this, for the Word of God proclaims, ‘Unto the pure all things are pure’” (Titus 1:15).

Another historical detail reported by Sozomen, was characteristic of the saint. It was his custom to distribute one part of the gathered harvest to the destitute, and another portion to those having need while in debt. He did not take a portion for himself, but simply showed them the entrance to his storeroom, where each could take as much as was needed, and could later pay it back in the same way, without records or accountings.

There is also the tale by Socrates Scholasticus about how robbers planned to steal the sheep of Saint Spyridon. They broke into the sheepfold at night, but here they found themselves all tied up by some invisible power. When morning came the saint went to his flock, and seeing the tied-up robbers, he prayed and released them. For a long while he advised them to leave their path of iniquity and earn their livelihood by respectable work. Then he made them a gift of a sheep and sending them off, the saint said kindly, “Take this for your trouble, so that you did not spend a sleepless night in vain.”

All the Lives of the saint speak of the amazing simplicity and the gift of wonderworking granted him by God. Through a word of the saint the dead were awakened, the elements of nature tamed, the idols smashed. At one point, a Council had been convened at Alexandria by the Patriarch to discuss what to do about the idols and pagan temples there. Through the prayers of the Fathers of the Council all the idols fell down except one, which was very much revered. It was revealed to the Patriarch in a vision that this idol had to be shattered by Saint Spyridon of Tremithus. Invited by the Council, the saint set sail on a ship, and at the moment the ship touched shore and the saint stepped out on land, the idol in Alexandria with all its offerings turned to dust, which then was reported to the Patriarch and all the bishops.

Saint 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 (Kerkyra), in a church named after him (His right hand, however, is located in Rome).

Canon to the saint, the composition of Theophanes, in Tone II.

Ode I, Irmos: In the deep of old the infinite Power overwhelmed Pharaoh’s whole army. * But the Incarnate Word annihilated pernicious sin. * Exceedingly glorious is the Lord, * for gloriously hath He been glorified.

Hierarch of Christ, Spyridon, pray to God for us.

Having attained unto the land of the meek, being thyself meek, merciful and pure, O father, calm thou the present tempest of my heart, that, in divine tranquillity, I may hymn thee.

Hierarch of Christ, Spyridon, pray to God for us.

Having cleared thy soul of the overgrowth of the passions through godly cultivation, O father Spyridon, thou didst become god-like and wast enriched by the most radiant splendour of the divine Spirit. Wherefore, thou dost illumine those who sincerely bless thee.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Taking thee from a flock as He had David, the Creator appointed thee as a most eminent shepherd of the rational sheep, shining forth in simplicity and meekness, and adorned with guilelessness, O venerable pastor.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O most holy and pure Virgin, enlighten and hallow my thoughts and soul, I pray thee, dispelling the clouds of mine ignorance, and removing the darkness of sin, that I may bless thee as is meet.

Ode III, Irmos: Thou hast established me on the rock of faith, * and my mouth hath been emboldened against mine enemies. * For my spirit rejoiceth when I sing: * There is none as holy as our God * and none more righteous than Thee, O Lord.

Hierarch of Christ, Spyridon, pray to God for us.

Having illumined thy mind with dispassion and adorned thyself with divine humility, thou didst receive the gifts of the Spirit to cast out evil spirits and to loose the infirmities of those who faithfully honour thee, O most sacred one.

Hierarch of Christ, Spyridon, pray to God for us.

Having slain the serpent, the author of evil, and trampled down the inclination towards avarice, O holy hierarch, taking pity on him who was in need, thou didst transform a serpent into a golden ornament by thy sacred prayers, O venerable father.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Thou didst ascend the mountain of dispassion; thou didst enter the darkness of the vision of God, and didst receive the law of salvation on the tablets of thy heart, in that thou art the most sacred and faithful favoured one of thy Master.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Heal thou the wounds of my soul, O Bride of God, and illumine my mind which hath been darkened by neglect, that I may chant: There is none blameless save thee, O immaculate one, and none pure, but thee, O Lady!

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Sessional Hymn, in Tone VIII: Spec. Mel.: “Of the Wisdom …”: Thou didst shine forth as a divinely appointed pastor, O Spyridon, raised from the tending of sheep by God, Who entrusted thee to preside over the Church of Christ. Thou didst drive away the wolves of false teaching by thy words, grazing thy flock on the pasture of piety. Wherefore, thou didst affirm the Faith by the wisdom of the Spirit in the midst of the God-bearing fathers, O blessed hierarch. Entreat Christ God, that He grant remission of sins unto those who celebrate thy holy memory with love.

Ode IV, Irmos: From a Virgin didst Thou come forth, not as an ambassador, * nor as an Angel, * but the very Lord himself incarnate, * and didst save me, the whole man; * wherefore I cry unto Thee: * Glory to Thy power, O Lord!

Hierarch of Christ, Spyridon, pray to God for us.

Set afire by the burning coal of the honoured Spirit, thou didst burn up all the readily kindled fuel of the passions, O all-blessed one, enlightening the world with the fiery rays of thy virtues.

Hierarch of Christ, Spyridon, pray to God for us.

Having slain the movements of thy flesh, O divinely inspired one, thou didst raise up the dead by thy life-imparting call. Wherefore, I beseech thee: Enliven my slain soul, O father!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

O father, the dead woman, obeying thee, spake, and by thy commands the raging of the river was restrained. For thou wast revealed as a worker of wonders endowed with divine grace, O blessed one.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

The prophets foretold the incomprehensible abyss of thy mystery, for thou alone, O pure one, didst give birth unto the Unknowable One, Who, in His unutterable tender compassion, became incarnate.

ODE V, Irmos: O Christ my Saviour, the enlightenment of those lying in the darkness of sin. * I rise early to hymn Thee O King of Peace, * enlighten me with Thy radiance, * for I know no other God than Thee.

Hierarch of Christ, Spyridon, pray to God for us.

The river of the gifts which are within thee doth water every heart, O venerable one, and richly granteth health unto all, moving all to glorify God, Who hath glorified thee and honoured thee with all manner of wonders.

Hierarch of Christ, Spyridon, pray to God for us.

The earthly emperor clearly recognized thee as a true servant of the heavenly King, full of divine gifts, O blessed one, when thou didst come to him, proclaiming the great Physician, Who is God.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Emulating the hospitable character of Abraham, thou didst open the doors of thy house unto all, and wast all things to all people, mindful of those who were in evil straits, O blessed Spyridon.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

For us hast thou given birth unto a new-born Babe, Who before the ages was begotten of the unoriginate Father, O Maiden. Him do thou entreat as thy Son and God, that He spare those who, with a pure soul, proclaim thee to be the Theotokos.

Ode VI, Irmos: Whirled about in the abyss of sin, * I appeal to the unfathomable abyss of Thy compassion: * Raise me up from corruption, O God.

Hierarch of Christ, Spyridon, pray to God for us.

Gold was as mire to thee who shone forth in dispassion more brightly than gold, and wast enriched by thy most golden gifts of the Spirit, O venerable one.

Hierarch of Christ, Spyridon, pray to God for us.

Serving thy Master in purity, O venerable one, thou didst have a multitude of the angelic hosts serving thee with unseen voices, O most sacred one.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

O most glorious and all-wise father, thy life hath made thee most glorious to the world. Wherefore, rejoicing, we that hymn thee celebrate thy divine memory.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

More spacious than the heavens was thy womb, which contained God Whom no place can contain, O all-holy virgin Bride of God, who knewest not a man.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Kontakion, in Tone II: Spec. Mel.: “Seeking the Highest …”: O most sacred one, wounded with love for Christ, * and giving wings to thy mind through the radiance of the Spirit, * thou didst find thy work fulfilled in the activity of divine vision. * O thou who art pleasing to God, thou divine oblation, ** beseech Him that divine illumination be granted unto all.

Ikos: Let us now praise Spyridon, the hierarch of the Lord, sanctified from his mother’s womb, who received the tablets of the grace of divine glory, as one most glorious in miracles from all of creation, as a fervent witness of the divine radiance, intercessor for the poor, and spiritual guide for the sinful; for he hath become a divine oblation for the throne of Christ, asking divine illumination for all.

Ode VII, Irmos: The godless order of the lawless tyrant * fanned the roaring flame; * but Christ bedewed the God-fearing children with the Spirit, * therefore He is blessed and supremely exalted.

Hierarch of Christ, Spyridon, pray to God for us.

Having acquired the guilelessness of Moses, the meekness of David and the blamelessness of Job of Uz, thou didst become a dwelling-place of the Spirit, chanting most sacredly: Blessed and supremely glorious art Thou!

Hierarch of Christ, Spyridon, pray to God for us.

The showers of heaven rained down upon thy head during the harvest and prefigured the future; for, as thou didst say, God glorified thy divine memory, sanctifying the faithful by thy mediation.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

In the council of the fathers God glorified thee, who guarded thy words in judgment, O blessed one. Thou didst bring them forth with faith, openly disclosing the follies of the most irrational Arius and destroying his opposition.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Through the ineffable Word, O Virgin, thou didst put forth the Cluster of grapes as the Branch which alone was uncultivated and which poureth forth the wine gladdening all mankind, sanctifying mortals and dispelling all the drunkenness of the wicked.

Ode VIII, Irmos: In Babylon, the activity of the fire was once divided, * for, by the command of God it consumed the Chaldeans, * but bedewed the faithful, who chant: * Bless ye the Lord, all ye works of the Lord!

Hierarch of Christ, Spyridon, pray to God for us.

Thou didst extinguish the furnace of the passions with divine outpourings of the divine Spirit, O father, pouring forth a dew which taketh away the fever of the ailing who ever have recourse unto thee in faith, O blessed Spyridon, thou who art most noetically rich.

Hierarch of Christ, Spyridon, pray to God for us.

Guileless, upright, meek, merciful, not mindful of the wrongs done thee, loving and hospitable wast thou, O most sacred hierarch, adorned with the wisdom of Orthodoxy, O venerable one. Wherefore, we honour thee with faith.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Of old the dead woman when questioned by thee O father, replied as though alive. Oh what a most marvellous wonder! Oh, what a most glorious mystery! Oh, the grace which thou hast received, having adorned thyself with an angelic life, O right wondrous one!

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Heal thou the passions of my heart with thy mercy, O all-hymned one; calm thou my mind, enlighten my soul, and guide me to walk the paths of salvation, that I may ever hymn thee, O all-hymned one.

Ode IX, Irmos: The Son of the Unoriginate Father, God and Lord, * hath appeared to us incarnate of a Virgin, * to enlighten those in darkness, * and to gather the dispersed; * therefore the all-hymned Theotokos do we magnify.

Hierarch of Christ, Spyridon, pray to God for us.

Exalted among the God-bearing fathers, thou didst openly proclaim the Son of the unoriginate Father to be of one essence and equally everlasting with the Father, and didst stop the mouths of the iniquitous, O all-blessed and holy hierarch.

Hierarch of Christ, Spyridon, pray to God for us.

O all-radiant sun, adornment of the fathers, glory of priests, converser with angels: By thy prayers grant the unwaning Light unto those who now joyously celebrate thy light-bearing memory.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

With a voice of rejoicing have the divine mansions, the heavenly city and the beauteous choir of those who hold festival received thy soul, which hath been hallowed and adorned with the virtues, O all-blessed one.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

The great mystery of thy birthgiving, which passeth understanding doth astound the angels, O divinely joyous one, delighting the assembly of the venerable and making glad the sacred fathers who hymn thee, the hope of our souls, in a godly manner.

Troparion of the Hierarch, in Tone IV: The truth of things revealed thee to thy flock as a rule of faith, * icon of meekness, and teacher of temperance; * wherefore, thou hast attained the heights through humility and riches through poverty; * O hierarch Spyridon our father, ** entreat Christ God, that our souls be saved.

 

 

Celebrating St Spyridon in Llanelli

12/25 December: the Feast of St Spyridon the Wonderworker

As Father Luke has to travel to England to visit family tomorrow, the celebration in Llanelli will consist of the Hours, Typika (with Holy Communion), and a moleben to St Spyridon the Wonderworker. 

Time: 08:00 

Chapel of St David and St Nicholas, 11 New Rd, Dafen, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire SA14 8LS 

As this is a domestic setting, Fr Luke would appreciate knowing if you would like to attend: Tel: 01554 755690. You are also welcome to email me: otetzmark@hotmail.com