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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

SPYRIDION, bishop of Trimithon in Cyprus, flourished at this period. His virtues are evidenced by the fame which still surrounds his name. The wonderful works which he wrought by divine assistance are, it appears, generally known by those who dwell in the same region. I shall not conceal the records concerning him which have come to my knowledge.

He was a peasant, was married, and had children, yet was not, on this account, deficient in spiritual attainments. It is related that one night some wicked men entered his sheepfold, and were in the act of stealing his sheep, when they were suddenly bound, and yet no one bound them; the next day, when he went to the fold, he found them there, and released them from their invisible bonds: he reproved them for having come as thieves by night to steal the sheep, instead of having asked for them. He felt compassion towards them, and, desirous of affording them instruction, so as to induce them to lead a better life, he said to them, “Go, and take this ram with you; it is not just that all your labour should be in vain, or that you should return empty-handed after having watched all night.” This action is well worthy admiration, but not less so is that which I shall now relate. An individual confided a deposit to the care of his daughter, who was a virgin, and was named Irene. For greater security, she buried it; and it so happened that she died soon after, without mentioning the circumstance to anyone. The person to whom the deposit belonged came to ask for it; Spyridion knew not what answer to give him, so he searched the whole house for it; but not being able to find it, the man wept, tore his hair, and seemed ready to expire. Spyridion, touched with pity, went to the grave, and called the girl by name, and inquired where the deposit was concealed; after obtaining the information desired, he returned, found the treasure in the place that had been signified to him, and gave it to the owner. As I have entered upon this subject, it may not be amiss to mention another incident.

It was a custom with this Spyridion to give a certain portion of his fruits to the poor, and to lend another portion without interest; but neither in giving or receiving did he ever take the fruits in his own hands; he merely pointed out the storehouse, and told those who resorted to him to take as much as they needed, or to restore what they had borrowed. A certain man once came to return what had been lent to him, and Spyridion, as usual, desired him to replace it in the storehouse. The man determined to act unjustly, and, imagining that the matter would be concealed, did not liquidate the debt, but went away under pretence of having made restoration. This, however, could not be long concealed. After some time the man came back again to borrow, and was sent to the storehouse, with permission to measure out for himself as much as he required. Finding the storehouse empty, he went to acquaint Spyridion, and this latter said to him, “I wonder, O man, how it is that you alone have found the storehouse empty and unsupplied with the articles you require; reflect whether you do not now stand in need of the things which you did not restore; were it otherwise, what you seek would not be lacking. Go, trust, and you will find.” The man felt the reproof and acknowledged his error.

The firmness of this divine man, and his excellent administration of ecclesiastical affairs, are worthy of admiration. It is said that, on one occasion, the bishops of Cyprus met to consult on some particular emergency; Spyridion was present, as likewise Triphyllius, bishop of Ledra, an eloquent and learned man, who had studied the law for many years at Berytus. Having been requested to address the people, Triphyllius had occasion, in the middle of his discourse, to quote the text, “Take up thy bed and walk;” and he substituted the word “couch” (σκίμπους), for the word “bed” (κράββατος). Spyridion, indignant at this refinement upon the text, exclaimed, “Art thou greater than He who uttered the word ‘bed,’ that thou art ashamed to use His words?” Then, turning from the throne of the priest, he looked towards the people, and said that such learning ought to be used with moderation, lest the pride of eloquence should arise. His age and honourable deeds excited respect, and he ranked high among the presbytery, not only on account of his age, but because he had been long in the priesthood.

The reception which Spyridion gave to strangers will appear from the following incident. When he was about eighty years of age, it happened that a traveller came to visit him at one of those periods of the year when it was his custom to fast, with his household, on alternate days. Perceiving that the stranger was much fatigued, Spyridion desired his daughter to wash his feet and set meat before him. The virgin replying that there was neither bread nor meat in the house, for it would have been superfluous to provide such things at the time of the fast, Spyridion, after having prayed and asked forgiveness, desired her to cook some salt pork which chanced to be in the house. When it was prepared, he sat down to table with the stranger, partook of the meat, and told him to follow his example. But the stranger declining, under the plea of being a Christian, he said to him, “It is for that very reason that you ought not to decline partaking of the meat, for it is taught in the word of God, that to the pure all things are pure.” Such are the details which I had to relate concerning Spyridion.








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