This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Monday, December 12, 2011

December 12 -- Feast of Saint Spyridon the Wonderworker

In the East, his feast is on 12/12.  In the West, it is on 12/14.  I'm going with today because I just can't wait to talk about him. 

Bishop Spyridon, the pastoral shepherd
He was a simple shepherd, married with one daughter (and no more).  When his wife died, he dedicated himself to Church service, as did his daughter.  He was so beloved, inspirational, and obviously holy that he was popularly proclaimed the bishop of Tremithus upon the death of his predecessor.  Even though he was the bishop, he continued to wear the simple shepherd's hat made out of pine boughs rather than a fancy mitre. 

The wonders he worked are pretty cool.   He resurrected a dead kid, of course. Cast out demons.  Froze a river so he could cross it and get to a trial in time to save a wrongly accused man.  Once he got up to preach and found no one in church, so he began the service anyway.  A heavenly choir began singing, attracting people to the church.  When they all streamed in, the bishop alone was visible, though the music continued to the end of the hymn.  Chastened, they all took their places and skipped church no more. 

On another occasion, some sheep rustlers broke into his fold to rustle his sheep.  They found themselves tied up, restrained with invisible bonds.  They spent a cold, smelly night among the sheep.  In the morning, Spyridon found them and remonstrated them for their wickedness.  Then he prayed for their redemption.  When he finally released their bonds through prayer, he gave them a sheep so they would not have spent the night in vain. 

But his most famous miracle was at the Council of Nice, where he was debating against the Arian heterodoxy.  Arius and his followers had trouble with the Trinity and Spyridon set about defending the concept.  As far as metaphors go, I like his roof tile metaphor far better than Patrick's shamrock, since a tile is truly unitary in a way that three leaves are not.  But my preference aside, the story is pretty fantastic. 

Big council, and the Arians have just finished laying out their main points.  Spyridon stands and says he will not debate them point by point, but instead will illustrate what he's talking about.  He holds up a roof tile and says that it is composed of three elements -- earth, fire, and water.  Similarly, God is a unitary being composed of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.  As he says this, the tile bursts into fire.  While he is holding the flaming tile, water pours from his hand.  When the fire dies, he holds a handful of dust. 

Game, set, match!  Father, Son, Holy Spirit!

By the way, Spyridon is the patron of potters.  If you know any, wish them a good day.

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