Saint Spyridon in Corfu Island
The Saint of Corfu and the island’s protector, the miraculous Saint, who has saved with his miracles the island of Feakos several times from the threat of disaster and famine, to whom recourse thousands of believers today seeking consolation and help, this Saint Spyridon in fact had never set foot on this island.
He was born in a poor family in Trimythounta of Cyprus close to Salamis in 270 BC. Despite the fact that he was a simple and illiterate shepherd, he was distinguished for his faith in God, his humility and charity.
From his marriage he had a daughter called Irene. When he widowed, he turned completely to God and become a clergyman. His reputation was so great that once the Bishop of Trimythounta passed away the same faithful people declared him Bishop.
Even then Spyridon was not distinguished by the other poor people who were his flock. He was wearing the same simple and humble clothes as before, the same hat from palm leaves while he was still conducting a poor life as he kept sharing all his belongings with people in need.
He kept going everywhere on foot, he was occupied with agricultural works and continued to guard his flock as a good shepherd. His reputation grew even more when through his miracles helped people who were begging for help.
Saint Spyridon at the Universal Council of Nice in 314 AD
Spyridon as a Bishop of Trimythounta participated at the ‘A universal council of Nice which took place in 314 AD and was held by the Emperor Constantine in order for the priests of the church to judge the theories stated by Arius
Arius, who was an illustrated priest from Alexandria, considered Jesus Christ to be among Gods creations and was rejecting the triple divinity. Spyridon, already widely known for his inspired preaching, although illiterate, was able to oppose to the theory of Arius and prove the real nature of God, the trinity consubstantial by the famous miracle of the tile.
After having compared the Holy Trinity –Father, Son and Holy Spirit- to the tile and its three components which make one body –fire, water and soil-, he hold a tile in his hand and at the same time fire sprang out of it. After that, water was poured out on the ground and at the end his hand was left only with soil.
Staring at this miracle, Arius very much embarrassed had no alternative than to apologize.
Spyridon passed away very old at the age of 88 on December 12th in 358 AD and was declared Saint by our Church.
Saint Spyridon arrives in Corfu
When the Saracens stepped at the island of Cyprus, the believers opened the tomb of Saint Spyridon in order to transfer his relic in Constantinople so as to avoid to be sacrileged in the hands of infidels. To their surprise, opening the tomb they found out that his relic was intact while the tomb had the smell of basil. The sacred relic was transferred to Constantinople were it remained until 1456.
Then 3 years after the conquest of Constantinople from the Turks, an old man from Corfu, the priest Georgios Kalochairetis, having hidden the holly relic of Saint Spyridon and the relic of Saint Theodora Augusta, in a basket covered with grass, managed to send them away from Constantinople which was under the Turkish occupation.
Having crossed in extreme danger Thrace, Macedonia and Epirus, he finally arrived in Corfu. The holy relic, initially disposed in the church of Saint Athanasius, was later on inherited by the 3 sons of Kalochairetis, Marcos, Lucas and Philippe.
The relic of Saint Theodora Augusta, inherited by Marcos was donated in 1483 to the people of Corfu.
The heirs of the relic of Saint Spyridon tried to move it out of Corfu, but having encountered the strong resistance from the people of Corfu, finally abandoned their plan.
At the end they transferred the relics’ rights to the daughter of Philippe, Asimina.
Afterwards, the relic passed to the ownership of the family Voulgari, as Asiminas’ dowry, when she got married with Stamatello Voulgari in 1520.
Since then and for four centuries till 1925, the relic was under the possession of this family.
Initially and till 1528 the relic was transferred to the Cathedral of the Archangel Michail. In 1528 Stamatellos Voulgaris, transferred it to the temple which was built by the family in honor of the Saint in the suburb of Sarokou (Saint Rokou).
However in 1537, during the first siege of Corfu by the Turks, for security reasons, the holy relic was transferred to the temple of Saint Anargyri in the old fort and was returned after the termination of the siege.
In 1577 was decided to demolish the temple in order to extend the walls.
The relic was moved temporarily once again to the church of Saint Nicolas of the Strangers in Garitsa, until 1589 when it was celebrated the construction of the current church, which completion took place around 1594 and it remains there until today.
In 1967 the church of Saint Spyridon was officially recognized as their own by a presidential decree under the name of Holy Pilgrimage of Saint Spyridon of Corfu.
Read about Saint Spyridon's temple