The Life of Our Father Among the Saints Spyridon, Bishop of Tremithus
The island of Cyprus was the homeland of the wondrous Spyridon. The son of simple parents, Spyridon was himself simple-hearted, humble, and virtuous. From childhood he labored as a shepherd, and reaching manhood, he entered into lawful wedlock and begot children. Living in an honorable and God-pleasing manner, Spyridon emulated David’s meekness, Jacob’s purity of heart, and Abraham’s hospitality. After a few years his wife died, freeing him to toil even more diligently in the Lord’s service, doing good deeds and expending his means on the care of strangers and the poor. So greatly did he please God that while still a layman he was granted the gift of working miracles. Because he could heal every disease and expel demons by a word, he was consecrated Bishop of Tremithus. Saint Spyridon was shepherd of the flock of Christ in that city while Constantine the Great and his son, Constantius II, reigned, during which time he continued to work the most marvelous wonders.
Once there was no rain on Cyprus for a long time, and this drought caused famine. A multitude of people perished from starvation, and a second Elijah was needed who could open the heavens by his entreaties. Such a man was Saint Spyridon, who, seeing the tribulation that had befallen the people and filled with pity for the dying, turned to our good God in fervent prayer. Immediately the sky filled with clouds and plentiful rain fell, soaking the ground for many days. When the saint prayed again, the rain ceased and the sun shone once more. Soon the earth produced its fruits: grain sprouted in the fields, gardens were filled with vegetables, and the vines were heavy with grapes. The famine came to an end, and through the prayers of God’s favorite Spyridon, there was an abundance of food. A few years later, however, the Lord permitted hunger to strike the land once more because of the sins of the people. The wealthy grain merchants rejoiced since they had been hoarding wheat during the years of good harvests, and opening their storehouses, they began to sell at high prices.
Now there lived in Tremithus a merchant whose avarice and appetite for pleasures were insatiable. Before the second famine he had bought large quantities of wheat in various places and conveyed it to Tremithus by boat. Unwilling to sell it at the price current in the city, he stored it in granaries with the intention of selling it later for more, thus increasing his profit. The situation grew worse daily until there was widespread starvation; then the merchant began selling his wheat at the highest price possible. One day, a poor man came to him and fell down at his feet in tears, begging a little grain so that he, his wife, and children might not die of hunger. The pitiless merchant refused to show compassion on him and sneered, “Bring money, and you may have as much as you can pay for.”
The starving man went to Spyridon and tearfully explained his plight. The saint assured him, “Return home and weep no more. The Holy Spirit has revealed to me that tomorrow you will have as much grain as you wish. The merchant will beg you to take his wheat without payment.”
The poor man sighed and went back to his house. Just after dark, by God’s command, a mighty rain began beating down on the earth, undermining the foundations of granaries owned by the pitiless miser, causing them to fall, and sweeping away all the wheat. The merchant, seeing poverty stare him in the face, ran through the city crying out for help, but the poor were too busy gathering up wheat from the gutters to pay him any heed. He came upon the man who had begged him to show compassion the day before, and convinced that he had been punished by the Lord for not being merciful, insisted that his suppliant take as much grain as he desired without payment. The poor man took a large quantity of wheat and thus escaped starvation, as the saint had prophesied.
A farmer known to Saint Spyridon went to the same rich man after the storm and asked him to lend him wheat to feed himself, promising to return what was given, with interest, when the harvest came in. Although not all his granaries were lost in the storm, the merchant had forgotten his lesson. He showed no pity for the man and would not even hear him out, insisting, “Without money do not expect a kernel from me!”
At this, the farmer hurried off to God’s Hierarch Spyridon and told him of his woes. After consoling him, the holy Bishop sent him home. The next morning, Spyridon went to the farmer and presented him with a large quantity of gold coins. “Take this, brother,” the saint said as he placed the money in the man’s hands, “and go to the merchant. Give him the gold as a surety, and borrow as much wheat as you need. When the harvest is in and you have a surplus of grain, redeem the coins and return them to me.”
The poor farmer rushed to the merchant, who was delighted to see the gold and immediately issued the grain. After some time the famine came to an end. There was a good harvest, and the farmer repaid with interest the rich man’s wheat, reclaiming his security, which he thankfully returned to Saint Spyridon. Accepting the gold, the saint took it to his garden, where he said to the farmer, “Come, brother, let us repay our loan to the kind Giver.” The holy Bishop placed the coins next to the fence and lifting up his eyes to heaven, cried, “O my Lord Jesus Christ, Who createst all things and hast power to alter them as Thou willest! O Thou Who didst transform Moses’ staff into a serpent before the eyes of the King of Egypt, do Thou now also command this gold, which was once a living creature, to resume its original form, so that this man may know what concern Thou hast for us and may understand the truth of the words written in the divine Scriptures: All that the Lord hath willed, He hath done.” As soon as Spyridon completed the prayer, the pile of gold began to stir, then changed into a serpent, which slithered into a hole in the ground. Seeing this, the farmer was seized with trembling and fell prostrate, saying that he was unworthy of the wondrous favor accorded him. At length regaining his composure, he returned to his house, marveling at the great miracle worked by God through the prayers of the saint.
A virtuous man, a friend of the blessed one, was slandered before the city’s judge, imprisoned, and condemned to execution though innocent. When Spyridon learned this, he determined to rescue his friend from an undeserved death. At that time there was flooding throughout the land, and a stream which lay across Spyridon’s path overflowed its banks and could not be forded. Calling to mind Joshua, son of Nun, who crossed the Jordan dry-shod when it was in flood, and certain that God was no less omnipotent than in times past, the wonder-worker issued this order to the waters: “The Master of all commands you to halt and permit me to cross, so that I may deliver a man from death!” At once the torrent returned to its course, and a dry path opened for Spyridon and those accompanying him. Several of his companions hurried on to inform the judge of the saint’s approach and of the miracle he had worked on the way, and the judge freed the condemned man, sending him to Saint Spyridon unharmed.
The godly one was clairvoyant and knew men’s secret sins. Once, while on a journey, he was resting at the home of a hospitable man, when a woman who was enslaved to the passions of the flesh and was a secret fornicator wished to wash his feet. Perceiving her sins, he rebuked her, “Do not touch me, woman!” He spoke like this not because he despised the woman (for how could a disciple of the Lord Who ate and drank with publicans and sinners scorn transgressors?) but because he wanted her to reflect on her wretched state and to feel shame for her impure thoughts and deeds. When the woman persisted in attempting to wash his feet, he relented and began to exhort her in a meek and loving manner, reminding her of her sins and urging her to repent. The woman was amazed and overcome by fear, because even her most secret transgressions were not concealed from the clairvoyant eyes of the man of God. Filled with shame and contrition, she fell at the saint’s feet and washed them, not with water, but with tears, in emulation of the harlot in the Gospel, confessing her deeds openly. The saint repeated to her with compassion the words of the Lord: “Take courage, daughter, Thy sins are forgiven,” and, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more. From that moment the woman completely reformed her life, serving as a good example for many.
Till this point we have related only the saint’s miracles, but now we must turn to his zeal for the Orthodox faith.
During the reign of Constantine the Great, the first Christian Emperor, the glorious First Ecumenical Council was convened in Nicaea to denounce the godless Arius, who referred to the Son of God not as the Creator, but as a created being. This council met in the six hundred and thirty-sixth year after the death of Alexander, the son of Philip of Macedon, and affirmed that the Son of God is of the same nature as God the Father. Several prominent bishops, Eusebius of Nicomedia, Maris of Chalcedon, and Theognis of Nicaea, supported the insane blasphemies propagated by the wicked Arius. Among the champions of piety there were numerous clergymen renowned for their virtue and learning, such as the priest Alexander, legate of Saint Metrophanes, Patriarch of Constantinople (who was ill and could not attend the council), and the glorious Athanasius, who at this time still served as deacon of the Church of Alexandria. Though these two were not yet bishops, they incited particular displeasure among the jealous heretics because they surpassed many in their understanding of the faith. No less eminent was the great Spyridon, whose virtuous life proved mightier and more convincing in refuting the heretics than did the speeches, proofs, and eloquence of others. The Emperor had permitted Greek philosophers known as Peripatetics to be present at the council, and the most learned of their number rendered considerable assistance to Arius. This proud man’s tongue was like a sharp, two-edged sword, and he used many sophistries to mock the teachings of piety. Although the blessed Spyridon was an uneducated man, who knew only Jesus Christ crucified, he asked the holy fathers of the council permission to enter into debate with the philosopher; but they, knowing his simplicity and lack of acquaintance with Hellenic learning, forbade him. Nevertheless, Spyridon, certain of the power of heavenly wisdom and the feebleness of human erudition by comparison, turned to the sophist and declared, “In the name of Jesus Christ, O philosopher, hearken unto my words!” Having caught the philosopher’s attention, the saint continued, “There is one God, Who created heaven and earth and fashioned man from dust; by His Word and Spirit He has ordered all things visible and invisible. We believe that His Word is the Son of God and God, Who, taking pity on those who have gone astray, deigned to be born of a virgin, live among men, suffer, die for our salvation, and rise again, resurrecting with Himself the whole race of man. We wait for Him to come and judge all men justly, rewarding each according to his deeds; and we believe that He is of one essence with the Father, and is His equal in authority and honor. Confessing these truths, we do not dare probe further into these mysteries with a curious mind, for they are far above all reasoning and understanding.” Then, after falling silent for a moment, he added, “Does it not seem to you, philosopher, that what I have said is true?”
The philosopher said nothing for some time, as though left without argument against the saint’s words, in which divine might operated, in fulfillment of the Scripture: The Kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. Finally, though, he did answer, “I am in complete agreement with what you have said.”
“Come then, and embrace the holy faith,” said the elder.
Turning to his friends and disciples, the philosopher announced, “Hear me! Till now my opponents have set forth their arguments against me, and I have answered their proofs with other proofs, countering all their assertions. But the words of this old man are full of such power that no one can refute them, for man cannot prevail against God. Therefore, if any of you perceive the matter as I do, let him believe in Christ and accompany me in following this elder, through whose lips God has spoken.” With this the philosopher, rejoicing over his defeat by the holy elder, accepted the Christian faith. His conversion was the cause of great joy among the pious, but the heretics were put to shame.
When the work of the glorious council was concluded and Arius had been condemned and expelled from the Church, all the holy fathers, including Saint Spyridon, returned to their homes. At that time the saint’s daughter Irene died. Having passed the days of youth in pure virginity, she was deemed worthy to enter the bridal chamber of heaven. After her death a woman came in tears to the saint, saying that she had entrusted to Irene a number of golden ornaments for safekeeping. Because the girl had expired without warning, no one knew where to look for them. Spyridon himself searched the house, but found nothing. Then, seeing the woman weeping and lamenting, he took pity on her and went to his daughter’s grave, accompanied by servants. Like Christ crying to Lazarus he called out to the maiden as though she were alive, “Irene, my daughter! Where are the gold ornaments entrusted to your keeping?”
Rising like one wakened from a sound sleep, she replied, “I hid them at home, my lord,” and described their exact [location]; whereupon the saint ordered her, “Back to sleep, daughter, until the Lord of all calls for you at the general Resurrection.” Fear came upon those present, and they marveled at the wondrous miracle. The saint found the hidden items at the place indicated and gave them to the woman.
With the death of the great Constantine, the Empire was divided among his sons; the eldest, Constantius, received the lands in the East. While at Antioch in Celled-Syria, Constantius fell grievously ill and his doctors could not heal him. Abandoning all hope in physicians, he turned to God, the Healer of souls and bodies, begging that his illness be cured. That night an angel appeared to him in a dream and showed him a choir of holy bishops, two of whom were apparently the leaders of the rest. Only those two, said the angel, could cure his affliction. Awakening from sleep, the Emperor pondered the dream, but had no notion who the two bishops might be. And how could he have known when they revealed neither their names nor their country of origin? Indeed, one of them was not yet actually a bishop, and only appeared as a hierarch because he would one day be elevated to the episcopal dignity. The Emperor remained perplexed for a long time until finally, at someone’s advice, he had all the bishops from the cities nearby assemble so that he might ascertain whether the two he had seen in his dream were among them. Since they were not, he next commanded that other bishops be brought from regions further away, but he did not find the men he had seen. Finally, he decreed that all the bishops of the Empire who had not yet presented themselves do so. This order (or better to say, request) reached the blessed Spyridon after God had revealed to him everything concerning the Emperor. Spyridon traveled to Antioch, taking with him his disciple Triphyllius, with whom he had appeared to the Emperor in the dream and who was not yet a bishop. They went directly to the imperial palace. Spyridon was dressed in poor garments and bore in his hand a staff made of a date-palm frond; upon his head he wore a cap, and on his breast hung an earthenware vial of the sort frequently carried by the inhabitants of the holy city of Jerusalem, filled with oil from one of the lamps that burned before the sacred Cross. Seeing him enter the palace dressed in this manner, a servant took him for a beggar and began to laugh at him. He refused to allow the saint to proceed and struck him on the face; whereupon, the guileless Spyridon, mindful of the words of the Lord, turned the other cheek. Then the servant realized that a bishop stood before him, and acknowledging his transgression, humbly asked forgiveness, which he received.
As soon as the saint presented himself, Constantius recognized him, since he had come dressed exactly as in the dream. The Emperor rose and bowed before God’s servant, tearfully beseeching him to pray to the Lord and heal his infirmity. The saint had only to touch the ruler’s head and Constantius was restored to health. Rejoicing greatly, the Emperor accorded Spyridon the highest honor and gladly passed the entire day entertaining his good physician.
Triphyllius, in the meantime, was marveling at the splendor and beauty of the palace and the multitude of nobles who stood before the Emperor as he sat upon his throne. Everything presented a wondrous appearance and shone with gold, even the livery of the servants. But Spyridon asked him, “Why are you so amazed? Do you think that the Emperor’s majesty and glory make him more righteous than others? Will he not die and be buried like the lowliest pauper? Will he not stand with all other men before the dread Judge? Why do you prefer that which passes away to what is immutable? The things here at which you marvel are of no value; you should rather seek what is immaterial and eternal, and love the incorruptible glory of heaven.”
Saint Spyridon instructed the Emperor at length, reminding him to emulate the beneficent God by being kind to his subjects, merciful to offenders, gracious to petitioners, a father to all, and ever ready to show compassion and to help those in need; for whoever does not rule in this manner should not be called an emperor, but a tyrant. In conclusion the saint enjoined Constantius to preserve and hold fast to the precepts of piety, and never to accept any teaching contrary to that of the Church of God.
To thank the saint for healing him, the Emperor wished to give him a large quantity of gold, but Spyridon refused the gift, saying, “It is not good, O Emperor, to repay love with hatred. What I have done for you, I have done out of love. To leave one’s home, to cross the deep waters of the sea, and to endure winter’s cold and blustering winds: what is this, if not love? Why should I take gold as payment, when money is the cause of every evil and the ruin of righteousness?” In the end, however, Spyridon did agree to accept the gold, not for himself, but to distribute among the poor, doing so only because the Emperor would not desist. At the saint’s request Constantius also released the clergy and ministers of the Church from paying taxes, judging it unseemly that the servants of the King of heaven should be taxed by a mortal ruler.
Bidding the Emperor farewell, the saint set off for Cyprus. On the way he was offered lodging in the home of a pious man, to which came a barbarian woman holding her dead infant. She placed the babe at the saint’s feet, weeping bitterly, and although no one present knew her language, her tears made it plain that she wanted the saint to pray for her son and bring him back to life. Spyridon, from fear of vainglory, at first refused to do this; but finally, overcome by feelings of compassion and the woman’s bitter tears, he summoned his deacon Artemidotus and asked him, “What should we do, brother?”
“Why do you ask me?” replied the deacon. “What is there left to do but call upon Christ, the Bestower of life, Who has answered your prayers on so many occasions? If you healed the Emperor, is it possible that you can refuse a poor and needy woman?”
Feeling even greater pity for the bereaved mother after hearing this good counsel, Saint Spyridon began to weep. Then, bending the knee, he addressed the Lord with fervent prayer, and He Who through Elijah restored to life the son of the widow of Zarephath and returned to the Shunammite woman her dead child by Elisha’s touch hearkened unto Spyridon. As soon as his spirit returned to his body, the infant began to cry, and the mother, overcome by joy, fell to the ground dead. Let no one marvel at this, for death may be caused not only by serious maladies or heartfelt grief, but by inordinate joy as well. The happiness of those who had just seen the babe resurrected was suddenly turned to sorrow and weeping, and again the saint asked the deacon, “What are we to do?” The deacon answered as before. Once more Spyridon turned to prayer, and lifting his eyes to heaven and his mind to God, sent up entreaty to Him Who breathes the spirit of life into the dead and brings to pass whatsoever He wills. Then he commanded the dead woman, “Arise!” Like someone woken from sleep, she stood up and took her son in her arms. The saint forbade her and the others present to speak about what had occurred, but after his death Artemidotus, not wishing to remain silent concerning the mighty works of God, related everything to the faithful.
After the saint returned home, a man came to him wishing to buy a hundred goats. Spyridon agreed with him on a price and told him to take the animals. The man left payment for only ninety-nine goats, thinking the saint would not realize he was being cheated (for everyone knew that he was totally unconcerned about mercenary matters). The saint accompanied the purchaser to the goat-pen, and the man selected a hundred goats and drove them out of the enclosure. One goat, however, like a good, wise servant, seemed to know that she had not been paid for and ran back to the pen. The buyer laid hold of her and dragged her off, but she tore loose again. This was repeated once more, and finally the man hoisted her on his shoulders and carried her away. The goat then began bleating loudly and butting the man’s head with her horns, continuing until she broke free. Everyone present was intrigued, but Saint Spyridon understood the cause of the problem, though he did not wish to put the swindler to shame before so many people. Therefore, he took him aside and said to him quietly, “My son, do not imagine that the animal is acting like this for no reason. Did you perhaps withhold her price? Is it not for this reason that she refuses to let you take her away?” The buyer was filled with shame, confessed his sin, and asked forgiveness. After he had paid for her, the goat peacefully set off on the road to her new home.
On the island of Cyprus, about three and a half miles from the capital city of Constantia, there was a village named Erithra. Once, the great Spyridon went there on business, entered its church, and ordered one of the deacons who lived in the village to chant a brief service of supplication with him. Since it was harvest time, extremely hot, and the saint had been on the road for a long time, he was quite weary; nevertheless, the deacon chose to draw out the singing, proudly displaying his voice. Although the blessed one was generally very patient, he was annoyed by this and finally commanded the deacon, “Be silent!” Straightway, the deacon was struck dumb. Everyone in the church was terrified, and word of the miracle quickly spread through the village. People living nearby came to see what had happened and were astonished. Falling at the saint’s feet, the deacon made plain his desperate hope that Spyridon would loose his tongue. His friends and relatives also begged the saint to show mercy, but it was only with the greatest difficulty that they obtained his consent, because Spyridon was severe in dealing with the proud and vainglorious. Finally, the saint forgave the deacon and returned to him the gift of speech. A trace of the deacon’s punishment remained, however, for his voice did not come back with the same beauty as before. For the rest of his life he remained a feeble-voiced stutterer, lest he become proud and vainglorious again.
One evening, the divine Spyridon went to Vespers at the church in Tremithus. It happened that no one was present except the clergy. He ordered that the candles and lamps be lit, then stood before the altar, exulting in spirit. At the appointed time he exclaimed, “Peace be unto all!” Since there was no congregation to answer the blessing, a mighty choir of voices from on high cried out, “And with thy spirit!” The sound of the choir was indescribably sweet, majestic, and harmonious; more delightful than any human singing. After each petition the words “Lord, have mercy!” were chanted by the same heavenly voices, terrifying the deacon. Even people far away could hear their sound. As a result many hastened to the church to listen to the wondrous music, and as they approached, the chanting grew louder, causing their hearts to rejoice. When they entered the building, however, they saw no one except the holy hierarch and a few clergymen, and the singing ceased, which greatly astonished them.
On another occasion, when the saint was standing in church at Vespers, there was not enough oil for the lamp in the choir, and the flame began to sputter. The saint was worried that the flame would go out, interrupting the chanting and leaving incomplete the daily cycle of services. But the Lord, Who hearkens unto those who fear Him, filled the lamp to overflowing just as He had filled the widow’s vessels in Elisha’s day, and the servants had to rush and bring pots to place underneath to catch the excess. This surplus of oil betokened the abundance of the grace of God which filled the heart of Christ’s hierarch.
On the island of Cyprus there is a city named Cyrenia (not to be confused with Cyrene in Libya). One day the saint was traveling there from Tremithus, accompanied by his disciple Tryphillius, who by this time was Bishop of Leucosia, another city on Cyprus. They passed by Mount Pentadactyllus and reached the place known as Parimnus (a locality known for its beauty and lush vegetation). Tryphillius, enchanted by the scenery, began dreaming how wonderful it would be to acquire a plot of land there for his Church. He continued thinking about this for a long time, and his imaginings could not remain hidden from Spyridon’s clairvoyant gaze. “Why, Tryphillius,” asked our great father, “are you continually dreaming about vanities? Why do you value estates and gardens, things of no worth, which serve only to lead astray the thoughts of men? Instead of these we should seek everlasting gain, for we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Even now, through reflection on God, we can take pleasure in what awaits us in the future life. Moreover, once we gain a celestial estate, it is always ours to enjoy.” This admonition brought Tryphillius great profit, and later, through his life of virtue, he became a chosen vessel of Christ, a second Paul, and was accounted worthy of innumerable gifts by God.
Since the great Spyridon was himself a righteous man, he sought to guide others to virtue by his admonitions. Those who followed his instructions received much benefit, while those who rejected them came to a bad end, as is evident from the following.
A merchant who lived in Tremithus sailed to another land on business. He was gone for twelve months altogether. During that time his wife committed adultery and conceived a child. When the merchant returned home, he found his wife pregnant. Flying into a rage, he beat her, and unwilling to live with her any longer, drove her out of the house. Then he went to God’s Hierarch Spyridon, explained what had happened, and asked for counsel. Grieving in the depths of his soul because of the woman’s sin and her husband’s tribulation, the saint summoned the woman, and without asking her whether she had fallen into sin (for the fruit of iniquity gave ample testimony to the outrage), he demanded, “Why have you defiled your husband’s bed and brought dishonor upon his house?”
The shameless woman dared to lie, saying that it was by her husband that she had conceived. Those listening were even more provoked by this blatant falsehood than by her adultery, and they shouted, “How can you say that when he was gone for twelve months?”
Nonetheless the woman held her ground, maintaining that the babe in her womb was awaiting its father’s return because it wanted to be born in his presence. Heaping lie upon lie and arguing with everyone, she lifted her voice above the tumult and cried that she was being slandered and persecuted. Then the meek and holy Spyridon, wishing to bring her to repentance, spoke. “Woman,” he said, “since you have fallen into a great sin, your repentance should also be great. There is still hope for your salvation, for no transgression outweighs God’s loving-kindness. I see that your trespass has given birth in you to despair, and truly, your offense merits a severe punishment. All the same, we wish to leave you time and place for repentance, so we declare for everyone to hear: you shall not give birth until you confess the truth and stop trying to hide what even a blind man can see.”
Not many days later the time came for the adulteress to be delivered of her child. She was seized by overwhelming pain, but the babe would not come out from the womb. Still the obstinate woman refused to acknowledge her sin, and she expired in torment without giving birth. Learning this, God’s hierarch was moved to tears and repented of his words. He declared, “How quickly was my sentence executed! Never again will I pass judgment on another.”
Now, having related our story of the wicked woman who was punished for refusing to heed the saint’s advice, let us tell of another woman, this one notable for her virtue. Sophronia was her name, and she was kind and pious. Her husband was a pagan. Sophronia frequently asked God’s holy Hierarch Spyridon to try to convert her husband to the holy faith, since he lived nearby and the two men were friends. From time to time they visited one another, and one day, while they were dining together with some of the other neighbors, the blessed one told a servant in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear, “A messenger sent by the shepherd charged with care of my flock is standing outside the gates. He has come to inform me that all the animals wandered off into the mountains while the shepherd was asleep. Let the messenger know that the shepherd has already found the whole flock sheltering in a cave; none of the sheep have perished.”
The servant related to the messenger what Spyridon had said. Then, a few minutes later, before the guests had risen from the table, another messenger sent by the shepherd arrived, bringing word that the whole flock had been found. Hearing this, the unbeliever was amazed. Because Spyridon knew of things happening far away as though they were before his eyes, his friend imagined that the saint was a god and wanted to offer him beasts in sacrifice as once the Lycaonians wished to offer them to Barnabas and Paul. He also desired to plait wreaths in his honor, but the saint said to him, “I am not a god, but only the servant of God; a man like you in every respect. It is the Lord Who reveals to me what happens far away, and if you believe in Him, you will learn how great is His might.”
Seizing the opportunity, the Christ-loving Sophronia begged her husband to renounce heathen error, acknowledge the one true God, and believe in Him. Through the grace of Christ he turned to the true faith and was enlightened in Holy Baptism. In the words of the divine Scriptures, the unbelieving husband was sanctified by the believing wife.
So great was the blessed one’s humility that although he was a Hierarch and Miracle-worker, he did not consider it beneath his dignity to tend irrational sheep. One night thieves broke into his fold and snatched a number of sheep. As they were about to flee, God, Who loved His favorite and protected his modest possessions, bound fast the thieves with invisible bonds so that they could not leave the pen. They were held there till morning, when the saint came to tend the animals. Seeing the robbers bound hand and foot by God’s might, he loosed them through prayer and admonished them never again to covet the possessions of another, but to gain their living by honest labor. Then he gave them a sheep, saying, “Take this for your trouble, so that it might not be said that you spent a sleepless night to no purpose.” And he permitted them to depart in peace.
There was a merchant living in Tremithus who frequently borrowed money from the saint to purchase goods for trade. Whenever he came back from his journeys, he would repay what he owed. Spyridon usually had him put the money back into the box from which it was taken, but so little was he concerned with temporal wealth that he never troubled himself to ascertain whether the proper amount was returned. Many times the merchant took coins from the box with the saint’s blessing, returning them later, and his affairs prospered. Once, however, he was overcome by greed and failed to return the loan, keeping the money for himself, while telling the saint he had put it back. It was not long before the merchant was reduced to poverty. Like fire, the stolen gold seemed to consume his wealth, and his endeavors met with nothing but failure. Want compelled him to ask the saint for another loan, and Spyridon sent him to his bedroom, saying, “Take what you returned last time.”
Finding nothing in the box, the merchant went back to the saint empty-handed. “Truly, brother,” said Spyridon, “no one has opened the box besides you. If you had put back the gold you borrowed, you would have found it there now.” Filled with shame, the man straightway fell at the saint’s feet, begging forgiveness. Spyridon was quick to pardon him, but so doing, he admonished him not to defile his conscience through deceit and never again to steal, for profit obtained unrighteously is not gain, but loss.
The Patriarch of Alexandria once convened a council of all the bishops under his jurisdiction. His intention was to overthrow idolatry through their common supplication since there was still a multitude of idols in the city. After much prayer, both public and private, had been offered up to God, all the idols in the city and the surrounding areas were dashed to the ground; only one especially revered statue remained standing. The Patriarch prayed long and earnestly for its destruction, and one night, while standing at prayer, beheld a vision in which he was commanded to send without delay for Spyridon, Bishop of Tremithus. He was informed that the idol had been spared only so that it might be destroyed through the saint’s entreaty. The Patriarch immediately wrote the blessed Spyridon a letter, requesting him to come, and the saint sailed for Alexandria. As soon as the venerable one disembarked at Neapolis, the harbor of the city, the idol and all the altars dedicated to it toppled and were shattered. Learning of this, the Patriarch proclaimed to the other bishops, “My friends, Spyridon of Tremithus is here!” and soon all of Alexandria knew of the saint’s coming. The hierarchs prepared to meet the man of God with honor, and rejoiced at the arrival of the wonder-worker and luminary of the whole world.
The ecclesiastical historians Nicephorus and Sozomen relate that our holy father Spyridon devoted great care to the preservation of order in the Church, and was much concerned that not one word of the sacred and infallible text of divine Scripture be altered. Once it happened that a council of the bishops of Cyprus was held. Among those present were Saint Spyridon and Bishop Tryphillius, who was a very educated man, having spent much of his youth in Beirut studying literature and the sciences. The assembled fathers requested Tryphillius to deliver a homily in church to the people, and while preaching, he cited Christ’s words to the paralytic: Arise, and take up thy bed. Tryphillius, however, substituted the word “couch” for “bed,” quoting the passage thus: “Arise, and take up thy couch.” Hearing this, Saint Spyridon, unable to bear any alteration of the Lord’s words, reproached Tryphillius, “Is it because you are ashamed of the simplicity of Christ’s speech that you changed the word ‘bed’ to ‘couch’?” So saying, Spyridon left the church. He spoke as he did not out of malice or ignorance, but to humble Tryphillius, who was proud of his eloquence. The bishops greatly admired the blessed Spyridon for this; indeed, because he was held by them in the highest esteem as the most senior of their number, a man of marvelous virtue, and a wonder-worker, they always respected his words.
So humble was Saint Spyridon that despite his high rank he continued to work with his hands, and one day, while he was out in the fields laboring with the reapers, his head was bedewed like Gideon’s fleece. This took place a little after noon when the sun is hottest. Then the hairs of his head suddenly began to change color: some became blond, others black, but some remained white. Only God knows the reason for this and what it signified. The saint felt his head with his hand and told those with him that the time was approaching for his soul to depart the body. He instructed them in the performance of good deeds, especially urging them to love God and their neighbor. They, for their part, were filled with astonishment.
A few days later, while praying, the saint surrendered his righteous soul into the hands of the Lord, Whom he had served in holiness and righteousness his whole life. He was buried with reverence in the Church of the Holy Apostles in Tremithus, where his memory was celebrated yearly. For many years numerous miracles were worked at his grave, unto the glory of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, wondrous in the saints. Unto Him be glory, thanksgiving, honor, and worship from us forever. Amen.