Author Topic: Saint Spyridon Patron Saint of Corfu  (Read 2217 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Steve

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Thank You
  • -Given: 163
  • -Receive: 325
  • Posts: 2384
Saint Spyridon Patron Saint of Corfu
« on: February 02, 2012, 05:35:47 PM »
Saint Spyridon, the Patron Saint of Corfu.

Protector of the island
 He was born about 270 A.D. in Askia, a village in Cyprus. He was of poor and humble origin and earned his living as a shepherd. He was married and had one daughter named Irene whom he dedicated to the Church at the death of his wife, while for himself he chose the monastic life. He was loved and revered by the people for his deep faith, so that when the bishop of Tremithous died he became his successor. During last years of his life he performed a great number of miracles, which was the reason why the faithful considered him a saint even before his death, which occurred about 348. Sweet-scented exhalations were repeatedly perceived emanating from his tomb, until the local churchmen dug it up and found the saintís body intact. The holy remains were kept in Cyprus for over three hundred years. Following an Arab raid in the second half of the seventh century; the saintís body was carried to Constantinople, where it was kept until the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453. Shortly after the Turkish conquest the priest George Kalochairetis carried off the body of the Saint, concealed in hay, together with that of Saint Theodora. He disguised himself as a peasant and succeeded in crossing the Turkish lines; after long wanderings he reached Paramythia in Epiros, where he stayed until 1456 and then crossed over to Corfu with his precious burden. Three times a year, on St. Spyridonís Day (12th of December), on Easter Saturday and on the 11th of August, the silver gilt case containing his body is exposed for public worship for three days and two nights (at Easter for three nights) in front of his chapel. Thousands of pilgrims pay homage by day and night and kiss his slippered feet. Many are the miracles attributed to the Saint and many people suffering from incurable diseases are relieved of their ailment.

The Religious Processions of Saint Spyridon

 On Palm Sunday, Easter Saturday, August 11th and the first Sunday in November the body of St. Spyridon, is carried in solemn procession along the streets of Corfu on routes prescribed by tradition.

 The great Palm Sunday procession commemorates the miraculous deliverance of the island from a deadly plague. The windows of most houses along the route of the procession are decorated with purple, gold-fringed draperies in honor of the Saint; the custom dates back to Venetian times and has its origin in Byzantium. The procession is attended by the clergy, headed by the Metropolitan, by representatives of the secondary schools and Boy Scouts, the three brass bands of Corfu town, and others from the villages. All the civic and state authorities, as well as detachments of the armed forces, take part in the procession. We must return to the seventeenth century to learn the origin of the procession. Large crowds gathered in despair in St. Spyridonís Church and prayed to the Saint for salvation from the plague, which had already taken the lives of sixty citizens. From that day the number of death was gradually reduced and at the same time a light like that of a small lamp was seen at night on the top of the Saintís belfry and was observed by the night sentinels of the Old Fortress. By Palm Sunday the epidemic was over and this was ascribed to the miraculous intervention of the Saint. The whole of the rejoicing population, in a show of gratitude, carried their Patron Saint in procession. The Venetian Governor, at the request of the people of Corfu, decreed on the 21st of June 1630 that henceforth a procession would be held on Palm Sunday every year.

 The Easter Saturday procession commemorates the relief of the island from famine, and is the oldest of the four processions and the most solemn, since it is combined with the Orthodox ritual carrying the ĎEpitaphí, a gilt bier representing the body of Jesus Christ being borne to the grave. On this occasion the canopy is not held over the Saint but over the Epitaph. This custom dates back to 1574, when the Venetian Senate prohibited the Greek Orthodox processions of the Epitaph taking place on Good Friday. Local custom and tradition has for this reason moved the Epitaph procession from Good Friday to Easter Saturday exclusively for the Church of St. Spyridon. The Saintís body is not replaced in its permanent silver casket when the procession is over, but is exposed day and night for general worship by the faithful until the afternoon of Easter Tuesday. The story of this procession reaches back to the middle of the sixteenth century. According to the legend of the Saint, the inhabitants of Corfu were suffering from famine since no grain ships could sail owing contrary winds. Unexpectedly, on Easter Saturday, ships loaded with flour sailed into Corfu harbor. They were sailing past the island and had been diverted thither by St. Spyridon who appeared in a dream to the captains and induced them to change their course and sail at once to Corfu because the population was starving. The flour was unloaded and distributed to the inhabitants who thus satisfied their hunger and celebrated Easter joyfully. According to historical evidence Easter Saturday procession was probably first held in the second half of the sixteenth century.

 The third procession of St. Spyridon is held on 11th of August, in remembrance of the Saintís deliverance of the island from the Turkish siege of 1716. The legend of the Saint mentions that there appeared to the enemy Saint Spyridon surrounded by a glorious heavenly host, holding in his right hand flashing sword, and furiously pursuing them. On its return to the church the Saintís body is exposed for general worship for three days and two nights.

 The last in the calendar of the processions of St. Spyridon is that on the first Sunday in November in commemoration of the miraculous intercession of the Saint in saving Corfu from deadly plague, which twice visited the island in the seventeenth century. The history of the procession goes back to 1673. The pestilence was first identified in one of the suburbs and soon spread all over the town; the entire population was gripped by terror of death. For three nights a light was seen by the local inhabitants on the bell-tower of his Church and the figure of Saint Spyridon, carrying cross in one hand, appeared driving the pestilence away. The Venetian Governor, at request of the people of Corfu, sanctioned by decree on the 29th of October 1673 that the procession be held every year on the first Sunday in November.

Bibliography: STAMATOPOULOS, N.: Old Corfu, History and Culture,

Stevie,  8)

The "Corfu Villages Printed Book" is now available as the Corfu villages website. Price £9.95 it contains 60 stunning pages in high gloss featuring 50 villages with text and unseen photographs. All money raised will go to the Corfu charities and the less fortunate on the Island.


All content Copyright © 2012 Corfu Forum. All rights reserved.
Sitemap 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25