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Saint Spyridon's Miraculous Defense of Kerkyra in 1716

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Icon of Saint Spyridon in his church on the island of Kerkya Icon of Saint Spyridon in his church on the island of Kerkya

Our holy father among the saints, Spyridon, wrought miracles at all times.  However, the most exceptional and remarkable one was whereby he preserved Kerkyra impregnable in the face of the Turkish invasion of 1716.  Every corner of the island marvels and proclaims this extraordinary event in a resounding voice.  The matter took place as follows:
 
War erupted between the Venetians and Ishmaelites (Turks), resulting in the capture of the Peloponnesos.  The Turks considered it to their advantage to take Kerkyra also.  Therefore, on the 24th day of June, in the year 1716, a powerful Turkish fleet sailed into the city's harbor.  Due to this unexpected move, the inhabitants were overwhelmed and surprised.  A great army of Turks landed on the beautiful island shores, their purpose being to lay siege and pillage the island by land and sea.
 
A fierce battle ensued, but the barbarians succeeded in overpowering the Christians by fire and sword.  After fifty days of violent combat, the infidels' main thrust came to be directed against the city of Kerkyra.  Then, the beleaguered Orthodox Christians, having no other recourse, sought refuge in their holy hierarch and defender, Saint Spyridon.  Day and night, they entreated him with tears and vigils, begging him to rescue them from imminent annihilation.  (Verily, this occurred!)
 
One day, the Turkish army stormed the outer walls of the city (and shortly after, many of them met an evil end, as they were evil).  They were vanquished by the intervention of the wonderworking Spyridon.  The outcome of this further enraged the barbarians, so they marched on the outlying towns, committing heartless and brutal murders wherever they went.  In addition to this, they threatened new raids which would exterminate all the natives either by an evil death or by bitter enslavement.
 
The hapless islanders intensified their vigils and prayers to the saint to deliver them from this peril.  At the point where they anticipated defeat by the Turks, suddenly, at dawn, our great father Spyridon appeared against them, accompanied by a vast celestial host, wielding a sword of lightning in his hand with which he angrily scattered the marauders.  This awesome sight struck panic in their ranks, and they turned to flight; their eyesight having been darkened, they were cast into confusion and slew one another.  Therefore, they were routed, driven from the land by fear rather than by fire, sword, or any adversary.  All this was accomplished solely by Saint Spyridon and the incorporeal hosts of heaven.
 
Meanwhile, the infantry and cavalrymen fled, and the fleet sailed away in the face of the great power of the holy hierarch, which delivered the city of Kerkyra.  However, after calm was restored (unbeknownst to the islanders), the Kerkyraeans expected further attacks, yet there was no enemy in sight, nor sound to be heard; only absolute silence.  Therefore, being puzzled by these peculiar circumstances, they left the city walls and proceeded in the direction of the enemy tents.  It was then that they realized that a miracle had taken place, to their utter amazement, and with sheer delight, they leapt for joy.  For strange it was and unprecedented for Turks to disappear and leave all their gear behind.  As they fled, they acknowledged to everyone wherever they went that they were driven out by a venerable monk (that is, Saint Spyridon) and a glorious celestial army which appeared in the air, forcing them out with great speed.
 
Therefore, with extreme reverence everyone hastened to render honor and chant hymns of thanksgiving to the wonderworking hierarch.  Furthermore, the expulsion was acknowledged by the Venetians (who ruled the island at the time), who proclaimed the rescue by the saint and the Christ-loving heavenly host, and honored them with a procession and hymns of praise.  The memory of this miracle is celebrated on the 11th of August.
 
The pious Christians constructed a solid silver lampstand of splendid craftsmanship, offering it to the holy Church in gratitude for this incontestable sign and wonder.  Therefore, by the intercessions of our shepherd and patron, O God, have mercy on us!
 
-From The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church: December, translated from the Greek, Holy Apostles Convent & Dormition Skete, Buena Vista, Colorado, 2003.

Last modified on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 03:26
Konstantinos Koutroubas

Konstantinos (Dino) is a seminarian at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts. He is from Philadelphia and will be going into his 3rd year of studies in September.

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