- Posted June 7, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Travel photo of the day
Miracle of the Saint Spyridon
Now the relics of the Saint are kept in the cathedral in the town of Kerkyra on the island of Corfu, not far from the village where we are presently vacationing with my son. St. Spyridon is referred to as "The Walking Saint", because his slippers must be replaced every year as they are worn out from his travels to help people. Sometimes the clerics say the Saint "has gone wandering”, so it is never clear when you can get an access to his relics.
This morning I received a message from my sister being worried that her ex–husband secretly took the title to all the property, so that she and her son have no place to live. She says St Spyridon is very strong in matters of the housing, so if we could just visit him and pray. I found it to be quite a coincidence, because just yesterday we discussed visiting the Saint - both of us had too much of the Corfu sun and needed to relax from the beach. So we are hopping on a cool Green Bus and in 30 minutes disembarking in the ancient capital of Corfu.
Kerkyra with its pink, yellow and beige bright colored houses, their pastel colors in sharp contrast to the dark green shutters protecting the insides from the heat, lively chit-chatting squares, tiny narrow streets and cozy courtyards dreaming in the shadow of the gigantic palm trees reminds me a mixture of Sevilla, Venice, bits of Barcelona and Rome. Joyous kerfuffle, clusters of happy children traveling in a group, mystically looking youth with lacquered hair gossiping over a cup of coffee tapping a thin cigarette in their skinny hand banging with bracelets, elegant relaxing Southern gentlemen with the locks of curly hair breaking from under the collars of their tennis shirts sipping cold coffee cocktails with a straw from the long thing glasses in the street cafés under the spreading lindens…. Usually I am a complete geographical nut head who's lost between three poles, always mixes up directions and has to be led by my genius son, a proud representative of the modern advanced technology generation. However, this time I'm bravely following the lead of the bus station guy: “Just go straight ahead for 500 meters entering the old town and turn left. You’ll see it”. There is a number of small streets running on both sides of the wide prospectus that we are marching on. Sure enough, we stop to look at the street map in the middle of the square when it's the right time to turn. Definitely, St Spirydon is leading me as I'm correct again turning after two blocks in a labyrinth of shops with the shelves full of liquor, ceramic cups and plates, embroidered towels and fluffy slippers made of Corfu's goat fur, proudly pointing to the tall bell tower of the cathedral topped with the intricate big clock with the golden arrows on the black dial.
We enter. The cathedral's practically empty, filled with the cool dark air of the solitude and reverie. Just few people are motionlessly sitting in the pews, some of them gazing up at the beautifully painted ceiling, with the frescos of the Saint performing miracles among the figures in the ruby colored clothes on the azure background, some just find the relief from hit under the grave archways of the cathedral. I instantly join the queue on the right side of the altar, not caring for anything as if directed by an unknown force and being quite excited that we have come so easily right to the place we sought and that it looks that we can get the access to the sarcophagus! Yes, here it is, a shining silvery box in the small cozy alcove with the intricate etching. There are a few steps leading up, to where a humble priest with the balding forehead and a neat dark beard dressed in the long black robes is standing at the feet of the shiny coffin, chanting a pray, while a woman is bending down over the opening in it, christening herself. The man who follows her ushers the names of the lot at the priest, who is wrapping them momentarily into the prayer, continuing in one long and uninterrupted sound. I’m so excited, we are here, and the relics are opening for the access, and we can bring our pray! I’m hastily coming up in my head with the requests that I want to address to the Saint, including those for my sister and for myself, and for my parents and my son, of course. In any case, by the time I’m managing to pull my thoughts together, it’s our turn and we are at the end of the sarcophagus, the priest is singing monotonously and there’s absolutely no one else in the chamber except for us. I’m smiling timidly at the priest lifting the edges of my hat so that I see him and tell him our names and those of our family wanting him to pray for all of us to the Saint Spirydon. The priest, in turn, introduces himself and I’m thinking whether I have figured it out right. Then I think I’m hearing him singing our names, I cross myself still looking at the priest as if I’m pleading silently to tell me what do I do next – it’s so overwhelming, all of it! He nods with the encouragement, his big kind puppy eyes look solemnly as he continues chanting. I finally cast a look down at the silver box – and oh my God! There’s no glass or anything, and I can see the dark red sharp–nosed slippers embroidered with gold lying there just in front of me, as if the Saint has just lay down for a quick nap being tired from his wanderings. Still not sure what to do, I ask the priest with my eyes if I could touch the relics and he nods again. I bend and touch the slippers gently with my lips feeling the warm familiar fluff of velvet, feeling as if I’m home being securely wrapped in my favorite blanket. The wave of warmth comes over me, wrapping me in a big sloshy bulb and the world for just a tiny second stops spinning. I feel as if someone’s caring hand lightly touches my hair, and I know my prayers have now been heard as if the Saint has landed me his ear. The reverie comes over me, and there’s a clear feeling of presence of someone lying there in that trunk, yes, there’s no emptiness, it’s definitely spirit of the full whole body lying there. I slowly unbend, still carrying this wonderful presence of the very powerful and very kind force with me, and it’s now my son’s turn. He quickly makes it, I put 5 euros to the narrow slit in the donations box, and we are quietly inhaling the reverie of the place where there’s still no one except for us, the Saint and the priest who is still chanting.
Finally, we decide to go to the shop and buy some icons to sanctify them with the Saint.
- It’s unbelievable! I can’t help wondering that we’ve just managed to see the Saint Spirydon’s slippers just like that! – I blab as we are getting some small images of the Saint for relatives.
– It’s amazing indeed, – replies the shop assistant, – they never open the coffin during the day!
The whole thing becomes even more precious as I’m realizing this was meant especially for us! The Saint has lead us from the station right to his sacred place, we came unknowing of the times of opening, and here we are, having had a chance to worship at the relics!
We come back to the Cathedral, but the sarcophagus is already closed. The priest hands to us small particles of relics neatly wrapped in paper.
– When will you open again? – I ask. He shows something with his fingers that should mean, probably “At five o’clock”. As the latest bus back to our village departs at 4:30pm, there would be no chance for us to see the relics if not for this unscheduled and unexpected opening. We look how people line up to touch the cover of the sarcophagus – it is now closed and looks as massive and grandeur as it feels distant, as the Saint has probably already gone wandering.