SAINT SPYRIDON CHURCH CORFU

agios spiridonFeaturing the tallest tower in Corfu, the St. Spyridon Church can be seen in the background. Built in 1596, the body of St. Spyridon rests in the church after arriving in Corfu in 1456. Before then it was kept in other churches.

Ceiling decorations originally consisted of gold-plated wood carved by P. Doxaras who took until 1727 to complete the work. Lack of preservation meant the decorations where replaced later by Nicolaos Aspiotis. Four annual processions take place from the church, the one on August 11 marks the date the Turks abandoned the siege of Corfu in 1716. 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. History: Saint Spyridon 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 saint’s 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 saint’s 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. Spyridon’s 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.