Sunday, June 13, 2010

Saint Triphyllios, Bishop of Nicosia and Disciple of Saint Spyridon

St. Triphyllios the First Bishop of Leukosia (Feast Day - June 13)

Saint Triphyllios, Bishop of Leukosia [Nicosia], was likely born in Cyprus, and he received his education at Berit (Beirut, in Lebanon). He was very intelligent and eloquent. Being a time of persecution against Christians, it was also during this time he became a Christian. In spite of his excellent education, the Triphyllios returned to Cyprus and chose as his guide a man neither bookish nor learned, but one of conspicuous holiness and simplicity: St Spyridon of Tremithos (December 12).

Eventually Triphyllios was ordained deacon and followed Spyridon, who was Bishop of Tremithos. When St Spyridon travelled to Nicaea for the First Ecumenical Council in 325, Triphyllios accompanied him as his deacon. St Triphyllios was charmed by the beautiful palace, the majestic figure of the emperor, and the pomp of palace life. St Spyridon said, "Why are you astonished? Does all this make the emperor any more righteous? All of them, emperors and dignitaries alike, will die and stand together with the very poorest before the judgment seat of God. One should seek eternal blessings and heavenly glory."

Upon their return to Cyprus, the people of Leukosia requested that St Triphyllios become their bishop, thus becoming the first bishop of Leukosia. Their were still many idolaters in his diocese, so his preaching was very simple but filled with powerful conviction. His home was open to all day and night. He recieved the poor, the orphans, the widows, and the sick and gave them comfort. He served as a shepherd to his flock with much zeal and love, which was something he learned from his teacher and spiritual father, St Spyridon.

When Emperor Constantine II (337-340) fell grievously ill in Antioch, and receiving no help from the doctors, he turned to God. In a dream he saw an angel, directing him to a group of hierarchs. Pointing out two of them, the angel said that only through them could he receive healing.

Constantine issued an imperial edict, commanding the local bishops to assemble. St Spyridon also received this order, and went to the emperor with his disciple St Triphyllios. The sick one immediately recognized them as the healers indicated by the angel. He bowed to them and asked them to pray for his health. St Spyridon with a prayer touched the head of the emperor, and he became well.

St Triphyllios would often visit with St Spyridon while they both served as bishops. Once, they passed through an area of vineyards and gardens of special beauty and abundance, named Parimnos. St Triphyllios, attracted by the beauty of nature, considered how they might explore this land. St Spyridon discerned the thoughts of St Triphyllios and said, "Why do you always think about earthly and transitory blessings? Our habitation and riches are in Heaven, for which we ought to strive." Thus did St Spyridon lead his disciple toward spiritual perfection, which St Triphyllios attained through the prayers of his instructor. St Triphyllios had a charitable soul, a heart without malice, right faith and love towards all, and many other virtues.

Once, a Council of bishops assembled on Cyprus. The Fathers of the Council requested that St Triphyllios, known for his erudition and eloquence, address the people. Speaking about the healing of the paralytic by the Lord (Mark 2:11), in place of the word "bed" he used the word "folding-stool" [σκίμποδα*]. Impatient with the imprecise rendering of the Gospel text, St Spyridon said to St Triphyllios, "Are you better than He who said "bed", that you should be ashamed of His wording?" and abruptly he left the church.

In this way St Spyridon gave St Triphyllios a lesson in humility, so that he would not become proud of his own eloquence. St Triphyllios wisely shepherded his flock. From the inheritance left him by his mother, he built a monastery at Leukosia named Odygitria or Chrysodigitria together with a cemetary. Together with this male monastery he also built a convent for women where it said his mother served as a nun. It was at this convent that nuns travelling to the Holy Land would stop and receive hospitality both upon their going and their leaving. It is believed however that both of these monasteries were destroyed by Arabs centuries later, though some believe the present church named "Phaneromeni" is built over the Odigitria Monastery. The saint died in old age in about the year 370.

The Russian pilgrim Abbot Daniel saw the relics of St Triphyllios on Cyprus at the beginning of the twelfth century.

* A σκίμποδα (skimboda) was a sort of folding-stool or couch for travellers, invalids and sedentary persons. Socrates was known to possess such a stool or couch.

Apolytikion in Tone Four
In truth you were revealed to your flock as a rule of faith, an image of humility and a teacher of abstinence; your humility exalted you; your poverty enriched you. Hierarch Father Triphyllios, entreat Christ our God that our souls may be saved.

HYMN OF PRAISE: Saint Triphyllios

By St. Nikoali Velimirovich

Saint Triphyllios while yet a deacon was he,
The Psalter and the Gospels he read;
And with a sweet voice, to the people he humbly read,
And Spyridon holy, attentively listened.

Once when in church, crowded with people
The chapter on the Paralytic he beautifully read,
How the gentle Lord, the sick one saw,
"Take up your folding-stool," said He and the sick one departed.

Triphyllios, the word "folding-stool", with the word "bed" substituted,
Then, said Spyridon: "My son, come to me!"
How, my dear deacon, do you change words,
The word which our gentle Savior uttered?
The word "bed" from His mouth came
And "folding-stool" you said, His word you omitted!

My son, this is a Book from on High inspired,
Therefore, everything as it is written in it, let us read.
Full of power, the Gospel words are
And weak and decayed human words are.
The "folding-stool" of man is not the same as a "beastly bed,"

Therefore, my son, say God forgive me!
Triphyllios the deacon, his error realized,
Bitterly repented and was much ashamed.
Triphyllios blessed, because of his spiritual father
Saint Spyridon, glorious miracle-worker.

Reflection of St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Meekness and kindness adorned our saints and it gave them strength and understanding not to return evil for evil. When Emperor Constantius, the son of the Emperor Constantine the Great, became ill in Antioch he summoned St. Spyridon to offer prayers for him. St. Spyridon, in the company of Triphyllios his deacon departed Cyprus and arrived at Antioch before the imperial palace. Spyridon was clad in poor clothing. He wore a simple woven cap on his head, in his hand a staff from a palm tree and draped over his chest he bore an earthen vessel which contained oil that was taken from in front of the Honorable Cross (which at that time was the custom of Christians in Jerusalem to carry). So dressed and in addition to that, exhausted by fasting and prayer and the long journey, in no way did the saint reflect his rank and dignity. When he wished to step foot into the imperial palace, one of the emperor's servants, thinking him to be an ordinary beggar, struck him with his fist on the cheek. The meek and kind saint turned the other cheek to him. When, with great difficulty, he succeeded to reach the emperor, Spyridon touched the head of the emperor and the emperor recovered.

** The above account is based on the Synaxarion of the Saint up until the 12th century, but a later manuscript from the 17th century reveals further details, which can be read here.

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