Many Russian residents have venerated the incorrupt right hand relic of the Holy Hierarch Spyridon of Tremithus with which he blessed people and performed miracles in his lifetime.
“My whole life is like a miracle”
Archimandrite Justinos (Konstantas), rector of St. Spyridon’s Church in Kerkyra (Corfu, Greece), the Church of Greece:
Miracles through the prayers of St. Spyridon occur every day in front of his relics! That is why he is known as a wonderworker. St. Spyridon has performed numerous miracles for all the people taken together and for each of us individually.
You ask me to tell you about a miracle of St. Spyridon, but if I focus on some specific miracle (given the fact that I have observed the miracles of St. Spyridon daily, if not every minute, for years) I will thus depreciate the abundance of other miracles which are continually occurring. I cannot single out one miracle.
Very many people receive healing. Numerous couples who weren’t able to conceive a child for years become happy parents. Cases of healing from cancer have been especially increasing recently. Someone diagnosed with advanced cancer comes to the saint’s relics, then repeats his tests, and the doctors can’t find anything wrong and only spread their arms in amazement, unable to explain it.
There is one more miraculous story: one family had no money at all and was “on the rocks”. After fervent prayer at St. Spyridon’s relics they were delivered from their despair and things sorted themselves out. “No such good luck had not bad luck helped”, as your Russian saying goes.
By the way, you Russians pray to St. Spyridon for improving housing issues. On the contrary, we Greeks turn to him with all kinds of prayer requests. Though most Greek people seek his help with employment. If you read the Greek prayer to St. Spyridon, you will see that it puts special emphasis on jobs. Unlike you, Greeks don’t pray to this saint for resolving housing problems. I am not sure about the origins of this tradition in Russia.
How did St. Spyridon help me personally?! I have served as rector of St. Spyridon’s Church on Corfu! He is all my life, and he has been helping me in all things. He blessed my priestly ministry and it was in his church that I was ordained. What else could I need? I have never asked the holy hierarch for anything, but he has provided me with everything. That mystery is beyond my comprehension. My whole life is like a miracle.
It is a genuine blessing and the abundant grace of God for all the inhabitants of Corfu to have such a great fellow-citizen—the Holy Hierarch Spyridon. It is a blessing for all times, since after his repose the saint of God has never left us. For his relics are absolutely incorrupt and miracle-working.
As for the dark color of his face and body, this is the effect of lamp soot and dust. But we dare not clean his relics. When we perform prayer services and change his slippers, we see that his feet are incorrupt and light in color, even sore due to a lot of walking [St. Spyridon is known as a “walking saint”], and find that his slippers are worn-out. When we touch his body, dents appear on it, but these gradually flatten out as if he were alive.
Every day miracles take place through our heavenly patron’s prayers on Corfu. I always tell people the following story as it is a model example. One unbelieving fisherman named Spiro (that is, Spyridon—the saint’s namesake) as usual put out to sea to fish, when suddenly a heavy storm came up. His boat went down, and Spiro himself almost drowned. But all of a sudden something happened, and the fisherman came to his senses standing on the shore! The man was so shocked that he immediately rushed towards the church. He wanted to bow before the stranger who had seized him when he was under water and whose hand he had clearly felt. When Spiro ran into the church, the monks (who had been unsuccessfully trying to open the saint’s reliquary) turned around and saw the man who had just been on the verge of drowning. And it was at the same moment that the shrine’s locks finally gave way! The survivor fell down to his rescuer’s feet… and noticed wet algae and sea shells stuck to the latter’s slippers! Then Spiro spent all his fortune on a golden icon lamp for St. Spyridon’s reliquary, but what is more important, he gave up his skepticism and converted to Christ.
Beyond all doubt, Russian people have also felt this grace as they venerated the portion of his relics, for we brought you the holy bishop’s right hand with which he performed and still performs miracles!
We thank His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia for his blessing to visit the holy Russian land and share the joy of communication with our holy protector of Kerkyra (who is also a universal saint) with the pious Russian people. We also thank Metropolitan Nektarios of Corfu, Paxoi, and the Diapontia Islands (the Church of Greece) along with all the metropolitans of the dioceses that we’ve visited (a dozen huge regions).
The faithful kept flocking to the holy wonderworker’s relics with prayer! Wherever we travelled, we celebrated the Divine Liturgy and prayer services with all the archpastors and pastors, and everybody felt that we are brothers in Christ. The blood of communicants—that is, Christ’s Blood, runs through our veins. We are united in the Orthodox faith.
I also express my gratitude to the Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Vladimir Fund in the person of Vladimir Babiy and the Svyatogora Orthodox Pilgrimage Center, through whose efforts all was perfectly organized.
“A miracle happens because God is near”
Neither St. Spyridon nor any of the other great universal saints can perform a single miracle by himself. But they can pray for us. What is the key difference between their prayer and ours? The Lord answers their prayer! Why does He listen to their supplications? Because they obeyed Him in their lifetime.
“Wherever God doth will, there the order of nature is overthrown” [sung at the vespers of the feast of the Annunciation]. A sick man can easily be healed, and a dying person can come back to life. The Lord can raise any human being from the dead. It is easy for the Creator to stop the sun or make it rotate in the reverse direction; He can send drought or thunder and lightning, striking in a clear blue sky.
As the Russian proverb goes, “the peasant does not cross himself so long as the thunder does not roar”. So the Lord can send an illness to somebody for his humility out of His fatherly care and love of mankind.
We can only turn to God in our prayers. But the Almighty always answers saints’ intercessions by the virtue of the fact that they were totally obedient to Him and pleased Him. Therefore, a miracle happens because God is near. It is for the sake of brevity that we say, for example: “A quick intercessor and most glorious wonderworker”, whereas the following wording would be theologically more correct: “Lord, help us through the prayers of Holy Spyridon, Thy wonderworker.”
How St. Spyridon saved one “sheep” that was later to become a bishop
When I was a youth of eighteen I went from Cyprus to Greece in search of holy elders. I was raised in the Orthodox tradition and realized that I needed to find a spiritual mentor. I had a tremendous amount of questions to ask him: What is the purpose of life and how can we find the right path in life? How can we walk towards salvation? How can we forgive, and pray? Why does death exist? And many other questions. At that time my heart was bleeding because my brother had been killed as a result of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974.
In Greece I first met Elder Porphyrios the Kapsokalyvite (1906-1991), who lived in Oropos near Athens. Although the man of God came to love me, he said:
“My son, you should be under the spiritual guidance of Elder Iakovos from Euboea.”
This holy elder, Iakovos (Tsalikis; 1920-1991), became renowned not only in Greece, but also throughout the Orthodox world. The future ascetic had moved to Euboea from Asia Minor as a refugee. There he became a monk at the Monastery of St. David, who appeared to him on many occasions in visions and conversed with him “face to face”, just as we communicate with each other.
As a fruit of my youthful ardor I intended to go to Mt. Athos, but Fr. Iakovos was trying to keep me from this step:
“No, you’ll go to Cyprus because you’ll become a bishop there.”
This was my first obedience—that is, fulfilling God’s will instead of my own will—although I did escape to Mt. Athos as the last “spark” of my self-will to speak with Elder Paisios the Hagiorite (1924-1994):
“How can it be?! The elder is sending me back to Cyprus, while I don’t want to go there!” I lamented.
“No, Elder Iakovos is right,” Fr. Paisios cooled my ardor. “You must go to Cyprus because this is the will of God. You will open monasteries and convents there.”
Additionally, he told me to obtain a law degree (and I was just studying at a law school). “Then you should wait and pray for two years. It won’t be until then that you’ll receive a direct answer in your heart, namely where to go and with whom to live.”
And indeed I heard an answer in my heart two years later: “You must go to Cyprus, to the town of Larnaka, to Fr. Simeon.” By that time I had got accustomed to obedience, so I reconciled myself to my lot, gave heed to the voice in my heart, and travelled to Cyprus. Fr. Simeon was an iconographer and a well-educated man. This elder had “X-ray vision” and saw all my imperfections. But the greatest irony was the fact that the geronda to whom the Lord had sent me turned out to be the exact opposite of mine! This spiritual father waited patiently for four years and never reproved me, hoping that a good example would be more useful than any words… An authoritarian personality, I have a sharp temper and am prone to anger. And once the elder had rebuked me after several years of obedience, I took offense and refused to speak to him for four days. And guess why I began to talk with him again? Because satan appeared to me on that day! Divine grace left me, so a demon had me in his clutches. I felt like a tiny insect (both physically and spiritually) and a good-for-nothing creature. On that day we were commemorating St. Spyridon of Trimythous.
“Holy Father Spyridon, keep me just as you kept your sheep!” I cried unto him.
He was a simple shepherd. And I decided to humble myself like a sheep. It was a very important decision in my life. I sensed that submission to your elder is the beginning of repentance… Obedience and submission to your elder are your protection from the evil one. Your heart frees itself from desires of the old Adam, and your mind becomes free of filthy thoughts. In this simplicity you begin to like seeing your own shortcomings… Seeing flaws and not positive character traits or merits (which you may also have)! Now I will reveal one secret: as long as we see things in ourselves, they diminish and decrease. If you in humility see only your weaknesses and passions, you will burn them as if with the sun through a magnifying glass. The devil doesn’t tolerate these “magic lenses”, when you no longer see your illusive majesty but rather see that you are miserable and worn-out, wallowing in sinful passions. However, if we notice something good, something special in ourselves, we are sure to lose all of this very soon. Do you know why? Because God loves us and takes these positive traits away from us to prevent us from becoming conceited and thus losing eternal salvation. And temptations begin. Don’t be surprised if everything in your life is going wrong—this is God’s remedy for obstinate people.
As St. Isaac the Syrian said: “A monk who boasts falls into the demons’ clutches.” I “felt this on my own back”, as it were. And it was St. Spyridon who saved me from this by his archpastoral power. Just imagine: whenever we praise ourselves, we doom ourselves to disgrace! We make a laughingstock of ourselves! The enemy of mankind at once begins to mock at the image of God in us.
So let us think of ourselves as being sheep and turn to the illustrious and merciful shepherd—St. Spyridon—in our prayers! Pray to God for us, o holy God-pleaser! Teach us to repent, to humble ourselves, and walk in obedience to the commandments of Christ.
St. Spyridon is great in his humility
God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble (Jam. 4:6). The Lord is glorified by the humble, and they are given Divine grace.
The Holy Hierarch Spyridon, the wonderworker of Tremithus, is a glorious saint, but he is great in his humility, and on account of his humility the Savior endowed him with this abundant grace. He was simple and uneducated. In this simplicity and lack of education he displayed profound humility, and Christ beheld his humility and bestowed upon him His grace. St. Spyridon received Divine grace both in his lifetime (in his body) and after his repose, so his relics on the island of Corfu are a source of grace-filled miracles. Every year when the brethren replace the saint’s slippers on his feet they appear to be worn-out with holes! The holy archpastor walks around the globe, helping those who call upon him and seek his intercession.
The Lord gives us grace depending on our humility and not according to His will. As St. Philaret (Drozdov) of Moscow explained, God creates from nothing, but as long as we value anything in ourselves He doesn’t begin His act of creation within us. In other words, the Lord doesn’t start working within us as long as we are great in our own eyes, wallowing in pride. And the Spirit of the Lord won’t dwell in us until we get rid of this pride. How do I know whether I am a proud or a humble person? The main sign of pride is susceptibility to offense. If somebody is easily offended, it is indicative of his hidden deep-rooted pride.
Blessed is he who understands spiritual life not only as prostrations, akathists, canons and long church services, but above all possesses humility and love. When we humble ourselves and no longer bear a grudge against anybody, love enters our hearts, and Divine grace overflows to us. All is very simple in our life: once we’ve overcome pride our touchiness will go; once over-sensitivity is gone, it is replaced with compassion and love for our neighbors. And compassion and love are a clear sign of the presence of the Spirit of God and His grace in our souls.
Through the prayers of the Holy Hierarch Spyridon, the Wonderworker of Trimythous, may the Lord deliver us from pride and resentment (the main symptom of pride) so that we can love our neighbors, humble ourselves, and realize that we deserve nothing, and all that we have has been given us by God in His boundless mercy. And then we will always give thanks to God—for our health and ailments, and for our joys and sorrows!
Archpriest Sergey Pravdolyubov, rector of the Holy Trinity Church in Troitse-Golenishchevo in western Moscow:
Some saints, particularly such universal saints as St. Spyridon, were very close to our New Martyrs and Confessors of the Soviet-era persecutions. Do you know why? Some wonder why Fr. Pavel Florensky mentioned God in his letters so rarely. But if he had mentioned God, his letters would have never been delivered to their addressees! Absolutely all letters were read by authorities!
For instance, this is what my father, Archpriest Anatoly Pravdolyubov who served part of his sentence in prison together with Fr. Pavel, wrote to his family: “I congratulate you! Today we are rejoicing with grandfather Spyridon!” What did these words imply? The feast of St. Spyridon of Trimythous! He was aware that letters were torn open and thus had to substitute “religious” words for these neutral ones. This letter breathed the sense of intimacy with saints! All things work together for good to them that love God (Rom. 8:28).
In reality, the Church of Christ is persecuted all the time (cf. 2 Tim. 3:12). This is a uniting factor for all Christians—those of both the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant.
“How?! Haven’t you seen?”
Nikolai Nefyodov, a chorister of Novospassky Monastery in Moscow:
Once we flew to Corfu headed by the then Archbishop Alexei (Frolov; 1947-2013) of Orekhovo-Zuyevo, Abbot of Novospassky Monastery. We arrived late for church service but were allowed to pray by the saint’s shrine. Archbishop Alexei was reading the akathist hymn. The fervor and love with which he was doing it were imprinted in my memory forever. His prayer was fiery! I filmed that event, and afterwards, whenever I watched the way he clearly and distinctly uttered every word addressing the saint (And not just reading in a slapdash way) “sent shivers down my spine”! Thereupon we venerated the relics.
I remember the archbishop’s delight when we were leaving the church:
“Kolya [a diminutive form of the name Nikolai], Kolya! Haven’t you seen?!”
“What has happened, Your Eminence?”
“What happened?! St. Spyridon of Trimythous turned his face towards us today!”
According to a local tradition, by turning his face towards those praying in front of him the saint shows his goodwill to them.
The archbishop spotted this and kept repeating:
“Why didn’t anybody notice this?!”
Indeed we didn’t notice it, and during subsequent visits I looked closely at the saint.
But on that day Archbishop Alexei was elated:
“Kolya, the Holy Hierarch Spyridon turned his face towards us! That is an infinite grace!”
May we learn to pray most ardently with the help of God so that the Creator and His saints can show their favor to us.
“St. Spyridon called me!”
Alexey Tarasov, a parishioner of Donskoy Stavropegic Monastery in Moscow:
St. Spyridon constantly helps us in our lives, and I am no exception despite my unworthiness. This time I miraculously ended up in front of his relics. Last Thursday an insistent voice in my head told me to go to his holy relics, as if the saint himself were calling me. Frankly speaking, earlier I had not intended to do it, thinking, like many of my fellow-citizens, that there was no need for this as a couple of Moscow churches house small particles of his relics, which we can venerate at any time. So I resolved to ask for Fr. Valentin (Gurevich)’s—the Donskoy Monastery father-confessor’s—blessing. “I’ll do as Fr. Valentin will tell me,” I thought.
He gave me his blessing, and I decided to go by metro. It was five P.M. and there was traffic congestion. Before leaving I dropped in at the monastery’s church to venerate Holy Patriarch Tikhon’s relics and ask for his blessing for my journey. And there I happened upon a woman who works at Donskoy Monastery. When I told her about my plans, it turned out that at that very time the monastery was sending two coaches with its monks and workers, headed by its father-superior, Bishop Paramon (Golubka), to hold prayer services by St. Spyridon’s relics.
There were two vacant seats in one of the buses; the time of the arrival was six p.m. While I didn’t want to trouble Fr. Valentin, due to the unforeseen circumstances I made up my mind to phone him again and ask him to bless me to join everybody else on the bus tour. I had a strong desire to receive his blessing. Fr. Valentin blessed me, and at the same time it turned out that he had not been informed about the coach tour as the organizers thought that he was sick. Fr. Valentin replied that he would go to St. Spyridon, although he was feeling unwell… So we occupied those two seats. All the monks and workers were glad to see Fr. Valentin with us.
Bishop Paramon and the brethren celebrated a prayer service at the designated area in front of the relics. Fr. Valentin sang and stood through the service with us. Then we venerated the relics. Our father-confessor had his old cassock and padded jacket on. Dressed simply, with no full Great Schema habit or priestly vestments on, Fr. Valentin looked like an ordinary novice and resembled the humble shepherd-archpastor! So people came up to him in great numbers, asking for his prayers and handing intercession lists to him.
Another consolation for Fr. Valentin was the meeting beside St. Spyridon’s shrine with Fr. Fyodor Krechetov (son of his spiritual father, Archpriest Valerian Krechetov), rector of the Church of the Greatmartyr George the Victorious in Gruziny [it provides spiritual support to the Georgian diaspora in Moscow.—Trans.]. They embraced. The fact is that the Church of the Meeting of the Lord at Donskoy Monastery houses a burial vault of Georgian royalty and princely families. And Fr. Valentin many times served the Liturgy, lityas, and memorial services there, having become intimate with Moscow’s Georgian diaspora.
A warm atmosphere of happy meetings, consent, solidarity, and community reigned at St. Spyridon’s relics. Fr. Fyodor was holding a selection of prayers to St. Spyridon in Georgian, stressing the supernational nature of true Orthodoxy…
Bishop Paramon drove Fr. Valentin back right to his cell in his personal car. The rest of us travelled back by coach, filled with joy. Our father confessor was very pleased and said that he felt no pains or weakness during the pilgrimage.
I must confess (sinful as I am) that earlier I had prayed to St. Spyridon only when faced with financial difficulties. But this time many people asked me to pray to St. Spyridon for them and their children. And I did it without any worldly things in mind, just praying for people who are close to me and who asked me to, but were unable to travel to the relics. And I had a very light heart!
I feel certain that no one’s request for help remained unanswered through St. Spyridon’s intercessions.
My birthday falls on December 25—the feast-day of St. Spyridon. I discovered this on graduation from the institute, when I became a church-goer. And when I learned that the saint’s daughter bore the name Irene/Irina [in the early Church bishops were allowed to have wives, this practice was abolished at the Quinisext Council in Constantinople in 692], like me, my affection for the saint became stronger. I even used to address him in prayers as if he were my father! I always feel his presence near me.
The first miracle of St. Spyridon in my life was my trip to Corfu. I couldn’t have afforded this trip at that time but for a bonus that I unexpectedly got at work on condition that I go to the seashore to improve my health. Of course, I went to Corfu—to St. Spyridon! During my week-long stay on Corfu I visited St. Spyridon’s shrine several times.
When I entered the church for the first time, it was packed with people. It was Sunday, and all the believers could only quickly venerate the relics—no one was allowed to linger by the shrine. My heart sank as I was praying to “father”. And what happened next was beyond my comprehension. The worker who stood guard, persistently hurrying people up and even slightly pushing them towards the exit, rested his gaze on me. I shrank behind the door which opened inwards and, catching his glance on myself, strained myself and started praying more intensively: “Holy Father Spyridon!” I don’t know what happened next… I supposed that I was by some miracle overlooked… The worker on duty turned away from me and continued with hurrying people up… Meanwhile I was standing behind the door and praying. This lasted over an hour and I was so happy! I finally darted out and flew on the wings of triumph!
Perhaps they either overlooked me or mistook me for one of their workers! Whatever the truth, that man recognized me each time, greeting me with a smile and nodding his head. When other church workers were distributing small pieces of St. Spyridon’s old slippers among the faithful, they handed me a handful of them! They counted out one to two pieces for each visitor, and when somebody begged for more pieces, they would refuse, citing the regulations and adding that the holy hierarch himself manages this church. As for me, I didn’t ask them for anything, and on my arrival home I was happy to distribute fabric from St. Spyridon’s slippers among my friends.
I felt the saint’s presence throughout my trip and he surely welcomed me there! Besides, he sent me to St. Nicholas of Myra! A young lady from a tourist agency who was passing by our hotel stopped to offer us a day trip to Bari by ferry. It included an overnight crossing by ferry, a day’s stay in Bari and the journey back in the evening. For me the price was too high, so I went out to dine at a nearest restaurant very disappointed. On my way back the same young lady (who was going to leave) spotted me and came up… I explained to her that the tour was too expensive for me, and, lo and behold, another miracle occurred! She gave a call to the agency, and I was allowed to buy my ticket at half the price! While I was packing my suitcase, I thought that there would probably be some trick on the ferry, but the journey passed agreeably. The whole trip to Corfu was fabulous! I was so thankful for the way “Father” Spyridon welcomed me!
Two years later, I visited Corfu again with the help of St. Spyridon. During the last trip I asked him to help me solve the housing problem—and he did! That was something almost unreal, fantastic! Although one of my prayer requests remained unanswered, I didn’t get frustrated and afterwards even thanked him for that because we above all should seek God’s will not our own will in our lives. He alone knows what is best for us!
I feel St. Spyridon’s help all the time. Alas, I was unable to show my respect for the holy hierarch during his right hand’s stay in Russia. All I could do was stand in front of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior for an hour, read the akathist hymn, and pray. I implored him as the defender of the truth to protect all of us and all the faithful Orthodox in Ukraine. And it seems I felt his warm response.
Holy Father Spyridon, pray to God for us!