- Posted June 7, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Photo essays: Your stories in pictures
Miracle of the Saint Spyridon
St Spyridon is a respected saint in the Chrystian world. In a 3rd century AD he left his shepherd’s life in Cyprus to become a bishop called 'Wonderworker” for the great wonders that he wrought. A few centuries after his death his relics were found intact and with a sprig of basil as a divine confirmation of St Spyridon’s sanctity.
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 are 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 Spyridon 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. The golden arrows of an intricate big clock point to a quarter past twelve.
The cathedral's practically empty, filled with the cool dark air of solitude and reverie. Just a few people are motionlessly sitting in the pews, some of them gazing up at the beautifully painted ceiling with frescos of the Saint performing miracles among the figures in the ruby colored clothes. Some just find the relief from heat under the azure of vaulted ceiling, some are quietly praying. As if directed by unknown forces, I dart to join the queue gathering on the right side of the altar, all beaming with excitement that we have so easily found a way, and just then notice a shining silvery box in the small cozy alcove. This is the sarcophagus! A balding priest in long black robes is chanting one long uninterrupted sound of the prayer into his beard, while a woman is bending down over its intricately etched rim, crossing herself. I try to hastily come up with a request to the Saint, but by the time I’m managing to pull my thoughts together we’re already up the steps and it is our turn. The priest is singing monotonously and there’s absolutely no one else in the chamber except for us. I’m smiling timidly at priest, muttering our names, he stops the prayer, introducing himself in return making me think whether I did it right? Then I’m hearing him singing our names, and look at him, silently pleading to let me know what to do next. It’s so overwhelming, all of it, he nods with the encouragement, big puppy eyes look solemnly as he continues chanting. My eyes finally move down to the silver box, and see it open, there’s no any glass, and I can see the dark red velvet slippers with the gold embroidery just in front of me, as if the Saint just took a nap, tired from his worldly endeavors. Still unsure, I look at priest silently asking, he nods, and I bend touching the slippers gently with my lips, feeling the warm familiar fluff of velvet, feeling as if I’m home, secure under my favorite blanket. The wave of warmth comes over in a big sloshy bulb and the world for just a tiny second stops spinning. Someone’s caring hand lightly touches my hair, I know that my prayers have been heard. There is a reverie, a clear feeling of the living presence. I slowly unbend, holding to this wonderful sensation of the very powerful and very kind force.
‘They never open the coffin during the day,’ tells the woman serving in the church courtyard. ‘It’s usually opened after the morning liturgy and then around 5 o’clock’. It means we’d have no chance, as the last bus to our village is leaving at half past four. The people are lining up to touch the cover of the sarcophagus, which is now closed
and looks as massive and grandeur as it feels distant. Perhaps, the Saint has already gone wandering.