Our Holy Godbearing Father Spyridon the Wonderworker (348).
He was a humble shepherd who lived on the island of Cyprus with his wife and his one child, a daughter named Irene. Though he was poor himself, his house and table were always open to travelers and those in need. He kept his money in a box which he left open and available to all, not concerning himself with who took from it or whether they were deserving or not. In time, his wife died and, with less worldly cares, he redoubled his prayers and his almsgiving.
He became so well-loved on the island that, when the bishop of the town of Tremithos died, the faithful unanimously chose Spyridon to succeed him, and he thus became a shepherd of rational sheep as well as the beasts he had tended. Despite his sudden elevation in rank, he kept to his former manner of life, traveling everywhere on foot, tending his animals as before, while fulfilling all the duties of a bishop as well. (To portray this godly humility, his icon shows him wearing bishop’s vestments and a peasant’s woven straw hat.)
His compassion for others was boundless. Though he was very strict with himself, he would always break a fast to give comfort to a traveler. Once a band of robbers broke into his sheepfold by night, but found themselves confined there by an invisible force. When Spyridon found them in the morning, he freed them, admonished them to live honestly, and gave them two sheep in compensation, he said, for their keeping an all-night vigil.
Pages could be filled with stories of the miracles wrought by the holy bishop for the good of his flock: by his prayers he ended a drought, turned a snake to gold to help a poor man, and even raised the dead son of a poor widow. His radiant virtue touched the consciences of those he met so that many would spontaneously fall at his feet and confess their sins.
When the Emperor Constantine summoned the First Ecumenical Council in 325, Spyridon attended, dressed in his simple peasant’s garb. At one of the sessions, a proud Arian philosopher challenged the Orthodox to a debate about the Holy Trinity, and was amazed when the simple Spyridon stepped forward to accept the challenge. He and all the other bishops were far more amazed when the uneducated peasant bishop confounded all the Arian’s arguments with his eloquent, Spirit-inspired words. The humbled philosopher admitted that he was convinced, embraced the Orthodox faith, and called upon the other Arians to abandon their human wisdom and embrace the true and life-giving Faith.
The holy bishop always celebrated the Divine Liturgy with joy. Once, serving in a remote, almost empty church, he turned to the invisible congregation and said “Peace be unto all!”, and his disciple heard a choir of angels respond “And with thy spirit!”
Saint Spyridon reposed in peace in 348 at the age of seventy-eight. His incorrupt and wonder-working relics poured forth miracles for the people of Cyprus until the seventh century, when they were moved to Constantinople to escape the Arab invasion; when the City fell to the Turks, the relics were again moved to Corfu, where they are venerated to this day. Even after 1,500 years, the holy relics remain incorrupt and work many life-giving wonders. Saint Spyridon is venerated as the Patron of Corfu.
St Finian of Clonard (549)
“St Finian, known as the ‘Tutor of the Saints of Ireland,’ stands with St Enda of Aran at the head of the patriarchs of Irish monasticism. He showed great zeal and piety for God from his youth. He had already founded three churches before he set off for Wales to study at the feet of St Cadoc at Llancarfan (September 25, †577). In Llancarfan he became close friends with St Gildas (January 29, †570), another of St Cadoc’s disciples. Upon his return to Ireland, he founded the great Monastery of Clonard during the same year the great St Enda (March 21, †530) reposed in Aran. A multitude of illustrious and holy men studied under St Finian, including the famous ‘Twelve Apostles of Ireland.’ St Finian founded many other monasteries during his lifetime, including the famous island monastery of Skellig Michael off the southwest coast of Ireland.” (Saint Herman Calendar 2003)