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Prometheus, Pandora's Box and Why, in Greek Mythology, Woman Was the Catastrophe of Humanity


Pandora's Box John William Waterhouse
Pandora's Box
John William Waterhouse


Pandora’s Box, one of the most loved Greek myths, is also one of the shortest, but, saying that, to fully understand this marvellous myth, and how Pandora came to be the first mortal woman on earth, the bane of mankind, you need to know a little about Prometheus, so, it gets longer!


Prometheus brings fire to mankind Heinrich Fuger 1817
Prometheus brings fire to mankind
Heinrich Fuger 1817

Prometheus, one of the Titans (these gods came before the Olympians, and lived on Mount Othrys, not Mount Olympus), was given the task, by Zeus (Roman-Jupiter) King of the Olympians, of creating mankind, shaping him from water and earth, his brother, Epimetheus, was given the task of creating animals.

Epimetheus, God of Hindsight, and lack of brain matter, as it turns out, was ordered to create the animals first, and then, when that task was accomplished, Prometheus, God of Foresight, was to create mankind.

 What a lot of trouble and strife would have been avoided if it had been the other way around, but, that’s hindsight for you!


Prometheus molding man from clay Constantin Hansen
Prometheus molding man from clay
Constantin Hansen

With much enthusiasm and not much thought, Epimetheus set about his task.
 Once the animals were molded from water and earth, dipping into a bag of tricks, given to the brother’s by Zeus, Epimetheus bestowed on these lucky creatures all the best qualities; strength and speed for pursuing and killing prey, fur and feathers for protection, claws and teeth for self defense and finely-tuned senses.

His job finished, Epimetheus sat back and proudly surveyed his work, he was about to tell Prometheus that he could now start on mankind when suddenly a thought occurred to him, he’d used up all the best qualities, mankind was going to be rather an inferior species!

Tentatively, Epimetheus said to his brother “Er, Prom, I’ve finished my animals, you can get on with man now, but, before you do, I’d better tell you something”, and went on to explain what he had done.

Prometheus, used to Epimethus’ lack of foresight, just had to make the most of a bad job, to compensate for the lack of qualities left for him to work with; he made man stand upright, like the gods, and then paid a visit to his pals on Mount Olympus to see what he could do to safeguard man’s survival.

After Prometheus has created Man out of mud, Athena breathes life into him. Christian Griepenkerl (1839-1912
After Prometheus has created Man out of mud, Athena breathes life into him.
Christian Griepenkerl (1839-1912

 Hephaestus (Roman-Vulcan), God of Blacksmiths and craftsmen, and Athena (Roman- Minerva), Goddess of wisdom, handicraft and war, risking the anger of their father, Zeus, and feeling sorry for Prometheus, decided to help by giving him their knowledge, so Prometheus, in turn, could teach arts and crafts to mankind.

Just as Prometheus was about to leave Mount Olympus, Hephaestus presented him with fire “Here, take this, it may come in useful for mankind”, and this, my friends, is where the trouble started.


Giorgio Vasari, 1511-1574, and Cristoforo Gherardi, 1508-1556
. Vulcan's Forge (detail). Fresco. Palazzo Vecchia, Florence. 
Giorgio Vasari, 1511-1574, and Cristoforo Gherardi, 1508-1556

 Prometheus returned to earth to teach man the art of survival, how to hunt for food, how to build houses and boats and how to read and write, and, I’m sure he regretted this one, the ritual of sacrificing animals to the gods.

As man made their sacrifices to the gods, Prometheus noticed that they seemed to get the short end of the stick, the gods inevitably chose the choice cuts of meat, leaving the bones and fat for man, to turn the tables, Prometheus thought he would show man a trick or two.


From a Liebig trade card   Prometheus, having stolen fire from heaven,  gave it to man, teaching them many arts and handicrafts.
From a Liebig trade card
  Prometheus, having stolen fire from heaven,  gave it to man, teaching them many arts and handicrafts.

 Prometheus cut an ox into two pieces, saying to man, “Watch closely, this is how you are to perform your next sacrifice, you’ll come off much better, trust me”, and with that, he made a smaller parcel, using the best cuts, wrapping it in the ox’s stomach, and a larger parcel, consisting of the skin and bones, which he concealed in fat.

Sure enough, at the next sacrifice, the greedy gods chose the larger parcel, unknowingly leaving the lean meat for man.

On realizing what had happened, Zeus thought “I’ll teach those tricksters a lesson, let’s see how they like raw meat”, and with that, snatched that wondrous thing called fire, from earth and from mankind.


Statue of Zeus (Detail) Chateau de Versailles
Statue of Zeus (Detail) Chateau de Versailles

 Seeing what had happened, Prometheus felt bad, this was all his doing, he never should have taught man to trick the gods, “I must make amends, they needed that fire, I must find a way to return it to them.” He thought.

In the dead of night, whilst all the gods were snoring on Mount Olympus, Prometheus broke into Hephaestus’ work shop, stole the fire, hid it in a hollow fennel stalk, and with it, hot-footed it back to earth.

Prometheus stealing fire. Jan Cossiers
Prometheus stealing fire.
 Jan Cossiers
The next morning, on discovering that, thanks to Prometheus, man, once again had possession of his treasured fire, Zeus’ anger knew no bounds and he ordered Hephaestus to capture the immortal Prometheus, chain him to a rock, where, an eagle would eat his liver, which would grow again during the night, only to be nibbled at by the eagle again, the next day.


Eagle devouring Prometheus' liver Theodoor Rombouts
Eagle devouring Prometheus' liver
Theodoor Rombouts

Prometheus’ punishment was to continue for all eternity, but ended when he was eventually freed, many years later, by Hercules.

Prometheus had been punished by Zeus for his treachery with fire, what was to be the fate of mankind for accepting stolen goods?

This is where Pandora comes in, to punish humanity, Zeus ordered Hephaestus and Athena to mold a woman from earth, the first mortal woman created by the gods, a woman who would wreak havoc on earth, the catastrophe of mankind, who, up until now had been living the life of gods, as immortals, innocents, knowing not of birth and death, evil and hardships.


Pandora Jules-Joseph Lefebvre
Pandora
 Jules-Joseph Lefebvre

 Many of the gods of Mount Olympus had a hand in creating the first mortal woman, as Hesiod (Greek poet between 750 and 650 BC), tells us, in his epic poem, “Works and Days”:

 “Athina taught her needle work and weaving and clothed her, Aphrodite  "shed grace upon her head and cruel longing and cares that weary the limbs" (Lines 65–6); Hermes gave her "a shameful mind and deceitful nature" ( Lines 67–8); Hermes also gave her the power of speech, putting in her "lies and crafty words”

Pandora, without being named, was actually first mentioned in an earlier poem by Hesiod, “Theogony”:

“From her is the race of women and female kind,
of her is the deadly race and tribe of women who
live amongst mortal men to their great trouble,
no helpmates in hateful poverty, but only in wealth.”

Owing to the many gifts bestowed upon her, the first mortal woman was named Pandora, meaning "the all-endowed" or, "the all-gifted".

Once Pandora was ready, in her best silvery dress, hair adorned with flowers, looking as pretty as a picture, Zeus offered her as a bride to Epimetheus, remember him, the half-wit brother of Prometheus?


Pandora  Alexandre Cabanel  1823-1889
Pandora
 Alexandre Cabanel  1823-1889
As Pandora’s dowry, Zeus presented her with a “Pithos”, a large earthenware jar with a wide mouth, used by the ancient Greeks for storing wine, olive oil, grains, or even burial of the dead, and instructed her, that under no circumstances, was she ever to open the jar.


A pithos from Crete Louvre Museum   Found in Arcades  Crete,  675 BC. Terracotta, stamped and incised decoration.
A pithos from Crete Louvre Museum
 Found in Arcades,  Crete,  675 BC. Terracotta, stamped and incised decoration.

 It is more commonly thought that Pandora was given a box, but this may be down to incorrect translation of the word “Pithos”, translated into Latin from Greek by the sixteenth century humanist, Desiderius Erasmus, as box instead of jar, and once Dante Rossetti painted his famous picture of Pandora, the jar’s fate was sealed, it had become a box. (Kouti in Greek)


Pandora by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
Pandora
 by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

 Now, Prometheus had warned his brother, Epimetheus, never to accept any gift from Zeus, but Epimetheus, the fool that he was, had forgotten this advice, and on seeing Pandora’s beauty, without a second thought, took her as his bride.

Epimetheus and Pandora lived quite happily together, the only blot on their relationship being Pandora’s nagging at Epimetheus to open the jar, after all, it was her dowry, how silly of Zeus to tell her not to open it.

Epimetheus, surprisingly, took heed of Zeus, there was no way he was allowing Pandora to open that jar, and so he hid the key to its large lock, which Zeus had given him when Pandora wasn’t looking.

One night, Pandora, who wasn’t an evil woman, only curious and disobedient, and also rather brave to consider defying Zeus, decided that when Epimetheus was asleep, she would break open the jar, which she did, and the consequences of her reckless act were dire!


Pandora Arthur Rackham
Pandora
Arthur Rackham

As soon as the jar was opened, out flew all manner of abominations: evilness, hate, crime, war, poverty, pain, disease, hunger, hatred, but there, hanging on to the edge of the jar, remained hope.



 Hope Edward Burne-Jones- Hope (1896)
 Hope
Edward Burne-Jones- Hope (1896)

Pandora flapped her arms about, trying to get these evil spirits back to where they had come from, but to no avail, on seeing that all these goings on had awoken her husband, she quickly slammed the lid shut, trapping hope inside.


 Opening Of Pandora's Box Frederick Stuart Church 1842
 Opening Of Pandora's Box
Frederick Stuart Church 1842 

 “Oh you silly woman” exclaimed Epimetheus, “look what you’ve done, you’ve brought wretchedness upon the heads of humankind, at least open up the jar and free that last little creature, so at least we may have hope."


Pandora, Epimetheus and Hope Arthur Rackham
Pandora, Epimetheus and Hope
Arthur Rackham

 According to the poet Hesiod, in his poem “Works and Days” a story about the creation of man, inspired upon meeting the nine muses, daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (Memory), there are five ages of man, the first four, all relatively idyllic, until along came Pandora, who caused the beginning of the fifth age, the last age, the age we are in now, to be a never-ending age of trouble and strife.


Calliope, Clio, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia, and Urania.  The Nine Muses
Calliope, Clio, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia, and Urania.
The Nine Muses 

1. The Golden Age

Men lived like gods, knowing no hardships, no pain; life was one long balmy summer

2. The Silver Age

Zeus has now created man inferior to god, the year now has four seasons, and man must grow his own food, but life is still idyllic.

3. The Bronze Age

Men are now war-like meat-eaters and carry spears, their weapons and houses are made of bronze, when they died they went to Hades (The underworld).

4. The age of Heroes

This is the Mycenaean age, an age of heroes, who, after death either went to the underworld, or to the land of the blessed.

5. The Iron Age

Men are now evil, and are burdened with all the worries of the world; they must toil and suffer for the rest of their lives. Innocence has gone for good.


 And so, this myth goes a long way in showing how and why there is evil in the world, the similarity here, to the biblical story of Eve and that dratted apple, in Genesis, is quite interesting, a few differences, but, both give the same message, woman was the downfall of man!

This post, written with love and meraki, is dedicated to my friend Pandora Spelios.

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Basil the Great, Bishop of Caeserea, Saint Vasileios, Agios Vasilis, the Greek Father Christmas

Basil the Great Bishop of Caesarea Saint Vasileios
Basil the Great
Bishop of Caesarea
Saint Vasileios

Traditionally, Greek children don’t receive presents from Santa Claus, SAINT NICHOLAS, at Christmas (which is celebrated) on December 25, but are visited by Agios Vasileios (Saint Vasileios, Saint Basil the Great, or, Basil of Caesarea), the Greek Father Christmas, on January 1.

Saint Vasileios, became the Greek Father Christmas, as a result of his kind and humble character, and his generosity towards the poor, to whom he distributed all his worldly goods.

The tradition is basically the same; 'Agios Vasilis' arrives with his bulging sack of toys and gifts, children are told, in the run up to New Year “If you don’t behave, 'Agios Vasilis' won’t visit you”, letters are sent to him, but rather than rounding up the reindeer and hopping on his sleigh in Lapland, Agios Vasilis sets off from Caesarea (Kayseri, modern day Turkey), for his busy New Year’s Eve in Greece.


Saint Basil & Saint Nicholas
Saint Basil (Vasileios) & Saint Nicholas


Vasileios, 330-379, a much-loved Saint of the Greek Orthodox Church, Patron Saint of Russia, Cappadocia, monks, education, hospital administrators, exorcism and liturgists, was born into a wealthy, religious, Greek family, in Caesarea, Cappadocia, Asia Minor (Modern day Turkey), one of ten children (some sources state six), five of whom became Saints.

 
Kayseri, modern day Turkey (Caesarea)
Kayseri, modern day Turkey
(Caesarea)

Vasileios’ mother, Emilia, the daughter of a martyr, his grandmother, Saint Macrina  the Elder, was a saint,  his sister was Macrina the Younger, his brother Saint Peter of Sebaste, another brother was Saint Gregory of Nyssa, and his youngest sister, is said to be Saint Theosebia, so, it was in the blood, no surprise that Vasileios himself became a saint!


The Holy Family of St. Basil
The Holy Family of St. Basil: (left to right, first row) St. Peter of Sebaste, St. Basil the Great, St. Basil, St. Gregory, (second row) St. Theosevia, St. Naukratios, St. Emmelia, (top) St. Macrina
 Vasileios studied in Mazaca, Cappadocia, where he met, and went on to be life-long friends with Gregory of Nazianus, Archbishop of Constantinople, later, he continued his studies in Constantinople, spent six years in Athens, where he met Julian the Apostate, (Roman Emperor 361-363), travelled around Egypt and Syria before returning to Caesarea where he practiced law and taught rhetoric.


St. Gregory the Theologian of Nazianzus
St. Gregory the Theologian of Nazianzus


Vasileios’ life changed the day he met Eustathius of Sebaste, an alluring, charismatic monk; he closed his law books, gave up teaching, travelled through Palestine, Egypt and Syria, where he studied ascetics and monasticism, gave all his inheritance to the poor and became a monk, saying:

“I had wasted much time on follies and spent nearly all of my youth in vain labours, and devotion to the teachings of a wisdom that God had made foolish. Suddenly, I awoke as out of a deep sleep. I beheld the wonderful light of the Gospel truth, and I recognized the nothingness of the wisdom of the princes of this world.

It didn’t take long for Vasileios to discover that a life of solitude was not for him, and by 358, with a group of followers, including his mother, Emilia, brother, Peter, and sister Macrina, Vasileios, on the family estate at Annesi, established a monastic commune, where life was devoted to prayer and charitable works.

Macrini the Elder Grandmother to Vasileios
Macrina the Elder
Grandmother to Vasileios


Saint Emilia Mother to Vasileios
Saint Emilia
Mother to Vasileios

Macrini the Younger Sister to Vasileios
Macrina the Younger
Sister to Vasileios


In 362, Vasileios was made a deacon by Bishop Meletius of Antioch, and in 365 he was called to Caesarea as presbyter of the church there, and, in 370, after the death of Eusebius, became Bishop of Caesarea.  


Fresco of Basil the Great (Vasileios) in the cathedral of Ohrid.
Fresco of Basil the Great (Vasileios) in the cathedral of Ohrid.
The saint is shown consecrating the Gifts during the Divine Liturgy which bears his name.


 During his time in Caesarea, Vasileios defended the orthodox faith against the heresy of the Arians, wrote many works on theology and canon law, (his writings about monasticism have influenced many religious orders in Eastern Christianity, some of which bear his name; the Basilian Fathers, also known as The Congregation of St. Basil, an international order of priests and students studying for the priesthood, is named after him.) and carried on with his good deeds.


Basil the Great Bishop of Caesarea Saint Vasileios
Basil the Great
Bishop of Caesarea
Saint Vasileios

Vasileios created the “Basiliad”, a philanthropic foundation, a large complex, outside Caeserea, consisting of hospitals, an orphanage, and a poor house, where, free of charge, the sick, poor and aged could receive food, shelter, and medical care, he organized soup kitchens, distributed food, and tried to reform thieves and prostitutes.


Basiliad Image thegreathospital.co.uk
Basiliad
 Image thegreathospital.co.uk


Agios Vasileios, or, Basil the Great, Bishop of Caesarea, Feast Day January 1, is one of the Three Holy Hierarchs (influential bishops of the early church), along with Gregory of Nazianzus and John Chrystom, and so is also celebrated on January 30, Feast of The Three Holy Hierarchs.


Three Holy Hierarchs
Three Holy Hierarchs
Basil the Great (left), John Chrysostom (center) and Gregory the Theologian (right)


Saint Vasileios is also known as one of the Three Cappadocians, or The Cappadocian Fathers, which include his younger brother, Gregory of Nyssa and his close friend, Gregory of Nazianzus.


 The holy skull of Saint Vasileios (Saint Basil) is kept at the Great Lavra Monastery, Mount Athos, Greece.


The Holy Skull of Saint Basil (Vasileios) Great Lavra Monastery Mount Athos Greece
The Holy Skull of Saint Basil (Vasileios)
Great Lavra Monastery
Mount Athos Greece

 One of the Greek New Year Traditions is that  families will set an extra place at the table for Saint Vasileios, when celebrating on New Year’s Eve, there will be the special New Year’s cake, the vasilopita, waiting to be cut, and children will eagerly be awaiting the Greek Father Christmas, or should that be Father New Year?

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Icons & Saints of the Eastern Orthodox Church By Alfredo Tradigo
Icons & Saints of the Eastern Orthodox Church
By Alfredo Tradigo
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Saint Spyridon of Corfu Greece, His Miracles and Relics. Saint of the Greek Orthodox Church

Saint Spyridon of Corfu
Saint Spyridon of Corfu

Saint Spyridon, Bishop of Trimythous, Patron Saint of the Greek, Ionian Island of Corfu (Kerkyra in Greek) 270 – 348 A.D, Feast day 12 December, was born in the small village of Assia, Northern Cyprus.

The life of Saint Spyridon

Spyridon (Spyros), a humble shepherd, was a simple, private, man, and, being devoted to God from a young age, he became the village priest, whose parishioners he constantly put before himself, using all his worldly goods for their needs, for this, it’s said, God rewarded him with the powers of healing and the ability to cast out demons.

Spyridon married and had a daughter, and after the early death of his wife, he entered a monastery, and his daughter, Irene, entered a convent.

Saint Spyridon Assia Northern Cyprus
Saint Spyridon
Assia Northern Cyprus

 Spyridon was eventually ordained as Bishop of Trimythous (Today Tremetousia, Cyprus), and was present at the first Council of Nicaea, 325 A.D, where he is said to have converted a disbeliever, by proving to him, how one single body could contain three separate bodies, thus explaining, the existence of The Holy Trinity; Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

To prove the concept of The Holy Trinity, Spyridon took a potshard; some say a brick, in his hand, and said to the pagan, “This one potshard, contains three separate bodies, fire, water and earth” and, Miraculously, as Spyridon was speaking, the potshard burst into flames in his hand, water dripped to the ground and he was left holding only clay.

This is why icons of Spyridon show him holding a flaming potshard, or brick, and is why he is also the Patron Saint of potters, other symbols are his right hand raised in blessing, or holding a gospel, a sprig of basil and always, his woven straw shepherd’s hat, showing that he never forgot his humble beginnings.


Saint Spyridon of Corfu
Saint Spyridon of Corfu

 Miracles of Saint Spyridon the Wonder-worker

Owing to various miracles worked by Saint Spyridon, he was granted the title Wonderworker by the Orthodox Church; in Corfu he is also called “The Keeper of the City”, as he saved the island more than once!

Below are a few examples of the many miracles performed by Saint Spyridon:

It’s believed that when the dreaded plague hit Corfu in 1629, starting in the villages, and quickly spreading to the town, the corfiots gathered together at the church of Saint Spyridon and prayed to him for salvation, some days before Easter many of the sick had visions of Saint Spyridon healing them, and for 3 nights strange lights were seen in the bell tower of Saint Spyridon Church, by Palm Sunday the plague had vanished.

In 1553 Corfu suffered a terrible famine, and just as everyone thought this was the end, and that they would all die of starvation, out of nowhere, a ship, filled to the gunnels with wheat dropped anchor at the island.

The captain of the ship reported he had seen Saint Spyridon calling to him in a dream, begging him to stop at Corfu as they were in fear of dying of starvation.

Another version of this miracle has Saint Spyridon whipping up a storm at sea, which forces a passing ship, with a cargo of wheat, on route to somewhere else, to find safety at the port of Corfu.

St Spyridon's miracle. St Spyridon is the patron saint of Corfu, Greece, which is depicted in the lower panel of the icon.  Late 17th - early 18th c. G. Aspiotes. Byzantine museum, Athens.
St Spyridon's miracle. St Spyridon is the patron saint of Corfu, Greece, which is depicted in the lower panel of the icon.
 Late 17th - early 18th c. G. Aspiotes. Byzantine museum, Athens.

 When the Turks invaded the island in 1716, at the second great siege of Corfu, Turkish soldiers were said to have been so terrified by the sight of Saint Spyridon, again, dressed as a monk, flying at them, threatening them with a flaming sword, that they fled in a panic, and the siege, which had lasted for twenty two days was over, Corfu was saved.

In 1673 the plague hit Corfu for the second time, again the inhabitants of the island, congregated at the church, praying for help from Saint Spyridon.

 Again mysterious lights were seen in the bell tower, and the image of Saint Spyridon was spotted chasing after the plague (which some say looked like a black ghost, others a winged creature, half lion, half monkey), and beating it with a cross, when it reached the fortress of Corfu, he had the plague creature scratch a cross into the stone wall, and vow never to return, abruptly, the plague was no more.

  Today, tourists are still shown the mark at the fortress, said to be left by the plague.

The Fortress of Corfu
The Fortress of Corfu

 Whilst Saint Spyridon was away at The Council of Nicaea, his daughter, Irene, died, on his return to Trymithous, Spyridon was accosted by a women, declaring she had entrusted some valuables to his daughter's care, and now, with Irene dead, how was she to find out where her valuables were.

Saint Spyridon took the woman to Irene’s grave, and, talking to her as if she were still alive, asked his daughter where she had put the woman’s valuables, Irene rose up from her grave, informed the woman of where the valuables were, and promptly returned to her grave and resumed her “sleep”.

Irene is recognized as a Saint, only in Cypress, a fresco of her was painted in the Church of Panagia Assinou, Cyprus in around 1332.


Irene, daughter of Saint Spyridon of Corfu Fresco in the Church of Panagia Assinou, Cyprus
Irene, daughter of Saint Spyridon of Corfu
Fresco in the Church of Panagia Assinou, Cyprus
Relics of Saint Spyridon

Saint Spyridon died in Trymithous, where he was buried, in 348 A.D, but when the Saracens invaded Cyprus in 648 A.D, his body was exhumed and taken to Constantinople, Byzantium for burial.

On exhumation, the body, although having been buried for three hundred years, was well preserved, and gave out a distinct aroma of basil, the king of herbs, both considered signs of Saints or “Incorruptibles” (Saints and holy men and women whose bodies have not decomposed).


Tomb of Saint Spyridon Cypress
Tomb of Saint Spyridon
Tremetousia Cypress

 In 1453 Constantinople fell to the Ottomans, and again, Saint Spyridon’s body was exhumed and taken first to Serbia, and then to Corfu, where the relics have remained and can still be seen today.

The relics of Saint Spyridon were brought to Corfu under the authority of George Kalohairetis, who passed them down to his son, Luke, who then passed them on to his niece, Asemine, as part of her dowry when she married Stamatios Voulgaris.

Relics of Saint Spyridon Church of Saint Spyridon, Corfu.
Relics of Saint Spyridon
Church of Saint Spyridon, Corfu.

 Voulgaris was granted permission to build a private church, where the relics were housed, until the construction of a new church, built in the old town of Corfu in the 1580s, the Saint Spyridon Church, the most famous church of Corfu which has the highest bell tower in the Ionian Islands.


The Church of Saint Spyridon Corfu Highest bell tower in the Ionian Islands Photo by Brian Jannsen Photography
The Church of Saint Spyridon Corfu
Highest bell tower in the Ionian Islands
Photo by Brian Jannsen Photography
 Inside the Church of Saint Spyridon is a crypt, where his relics are kept in a double sarcophagus, and are on view to the public twice a day, on his Feast Day, 12 December in the Eastern Orthodox Church, 14 December in the West, the relics are carried through the town.

The famous ceiling of St. Spyridon Church, Corfu, divided into panels, dipicting his life & miracles.   Originally painted by Corfu artist Panagiotis Doxara in 1727.
The famous ceiling of St. Spyridon Church, Corfu, divided into panels, dipicting his life & miracles.
  Originally painted by Corfu artist Panagiotis Doxara in 1727.

 The relics, which are said to have the temperature of a living body, and flesh which has remained supple, have been studied and examined by many scientists from around the world, none of them have an explanation for this phenomenon.


Relics of Saint Spyridon of Corfu
Relics of Saint Spyridon of Corfu

Relics of Saint Spyridon  Saint Spyridon Church Corfu
Relics of Saint Spyridon
Saint Spyridon Church Corfu

 Saint Spyridon is known as “The walking Saint”, his silk slippers need to be replaced frequently as it’s said they wear out as he walks the world performing miracles, his coffin has a removable bottom, to make things easier when replacing his shoes, which is done on his feast Day, when thousands of pilgrims visit and kiss his feet
.

The silk slippers of Saint Spyridon, Corfu
The silk slippers of Saint Spyridon, Corfu

 For reasons unknown, the right hand of Saint Spyridon is separate from the body, it’s thought it was taken to Rome ( where it was kept in the Church of Santa Maria in Vallicella), from Constantinople, between 1592 and 1605, more than a hundred years after his body was brought to Corfu.


Church of Santa Maria in Vallicella Rome Italy
Church of Santa Maria in Vallicella
Rome Italy

In 1984 the hand was flown to Corfu from Rome, and in great pomp and glory, returned to its owner!

The Right hand of Saint Spyridon, Corfu
The Right hand of Saint Spyridon, Corfu

 The hand of Saint Spyridon has done quite a bit of travelling, among other places, it has visited Russia, and in October 2017, America.


The right hand of Saint Spyridon in Russia
The right hand of Saint Spyridon in Russia

 Apart from the celebration of his Feast Day, there are four other yearly occasions when the relics of Saint Spyridon are taken around the town, these processions are to celebrate some of the miracles he has performed:

1. Palm Sunday, in celebration of saving Corfu from the plague.

2. Holy Saturday, in honour of Corfu escaping the famine.

3. 11 August, in commemoration of the defeat of the Turks.

4. First Sunday in November, in celebration of the end of the second plague.


  Procession carrying the relics of Saint Spyridon around Corfu Town
Procession carrying the relics of Saint Spyridon around Corfu Town

 Along with being Patron Saint of Corfu and Potters, oh, and Piraeus, Saint Spyridon is the Patron Saint of the Tolstoy family, chosen by Andrei Tolstoy after the Grand Prince of Muscovy, Basil II, gave him a gold cross containing relics of Saint Spyridon in around 1430, this still exists and is now the property of Nikolai Tolstoy, the family’s most senior member.

Statue of Saint Spyridon, South Collonade, St. Peters Rome. Sculptor - Lazzaro Morelli Statue created - c. 1668-1670
Statue of Saint Spyridon, South Collonade, St. Peters Rome.
Sculptor - Lazzaro Morelli
Statue created - c. 1668-1670
As happens a lot in Greece, the name of a Patron Saint of an area, is given to children born there, e.g. Patras has many Andreas, Kefalonia, lots of people named Gerasimos, and so Spyros, and Spiridoula for girls, are very popular names in Corfu, Happy Name Day Corfu and to all you Spyros and Spiridoullas!

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