Born into a family of shepherds, Spiridon followed the family occupation like David the King and Prophet, and the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He married and had children, but his wife died early in their marriage. A single parent, Spiridon n not only earned a living and raised his children, but also found the time and the resources to be conspicuously hospitable to strangers and to the poor.
As he grew in the love of God and man, God gave him the gift of healing the sick and driving out demons with a single word. As a result of his holy life and the miracles God performed through him, Spiridon was chosen and ordained bishop of his hometown, the city of Tremithus on the island of Cyprus during the reign of St. Constantine the Great.
Called to take part in the Council of Nicaea in 325, Spiridon, though not well-educated, surprised everyone by converting a famous philosopher to Orthodoxy from Arianism. He explained the unity and diversity of the Trinity by holding up a brick, then commonly thought to be a combination of the elements fire, earth and water; as he spoke, fire blazed from the top of the brick while water gushed out underneath.
When he arrived back home a woman told him that she had given his daughter, who had died while he was gone, several valuable pieces of jewelry for safekeeping. Now that his daughter was dead, no one could find where she had hidden them. Spiridon went to his daughter’s grave, spoke to her, and was able to restore the jewelry to its owner.
During a famine Spiridon changed a snake into gold pieces so that a poor man could buy food from a greedy merchant who had cornered the supply.
One day there was only himself and the deacon and readers in church at vespers. Spiridon began the service and the responses were audibly and beautifully chanted by an unseen choir. The music was so beautiful that others, passing by, heard it and saw through the windows what seemed like a large congregation. Entering the church, however, they found only St. Spiridon and his assistants.
Spiridon fell asleep in the Lord in the year 348 and was buried in the Church of the Holy Apostles in Tremithus. His body became an object of wonder because it retained the flexibility of living flesh. So many miracles were attributed to his intercessions before the throne of God that his shrine became a place of pilgrimage. Removed to Constantinople and then to Serbia to avoid its falling into the hands of unbelievers, it is now enshrined on the island of Corfu in Greece. He is called a “walking saint” because the silk slippers which clothe the feet of his relics wear out each year and are replaced on his feast day.
Holy Saint Spiridon, pray to God for us!
This story of the life of St. Spiridon is from the book “St. Spiridon’s Cathedral, A Century in Seattle”, ed. Alan Mack, (c) 1995 St. Spiridon’s Cathedral.