THE GREAT MIRACLE
In 1716 the Turks had the island of Corfu under a tight siege. They had 50,000 troops and a good number of ships surrounding the island, cutting its lifeline from land and sea.
The barbarian armies had been concentrated at the far walls of the city. Pizani, a general of the forces of the Venetian Republic, was anxiously anticipating the oncoming enemy attack (since Corfu and the nearby islands were occupied by Italy at the time).
At daybreak on August 11, 1716, St. Spyridon, the patron Saint of the island, appeared in front of the enemy lines holding a glistening sword in his right hand. His austere and grandiose appearance horrified the aggressors who began to recede. The Hagarenes, panic-stricken by the most awesome presence and fearless attack of the Saint, abandoned weapons, machinery and animals, running for their lives.
This great miracle became known throughout the island. The Turks had left behind 120 cannons, a large number of weapons, ammunition, animals and food.
After this powerful, surprising and most obvious miracle, the Venetian ruler Andrew Pizani, who was a Papist, wanted to erect a Papist altar inside the Orthodox Church of St. Spyridon (forever pushing for this was also the Papist Cardinal of the island). However, St. Spyridon appeared to Pizani in a dream saying: “Why are you bothering me? The altar of your faith is unacceptable in my Temple!” Naturally, Pizani reported this to the Papist Cardinal who answered that it was nothing but an evil fantasy of the devil who wanted to nullify the noble deed. After this, Pizani was much encouraged, so he ordered the necessary materials to commence construction of the altar. The materials were piled up outside of the temple of St. Spyridon. When the Orthodox priests of the temple and the Greek leaders of the island realised what was going on, they were greatly grieved. They asked to meet with Pizani to ask him to put a stop to this. Pizani’s response was quite disheartening. He said quite bluntly, “As a ruler I will do whatever I please!” At that moment, the Orthodox community of the island turned their eyes to their Saint, beseeching him to put a stop to this abomination.
That same night, St. Spyridon appeared to Pizani as a monk and told him, “I told you not to bother me. If you dare to go through with your decision, you will surely regret it, but by then it will be too late.”
The next morning, Pizani reported all this to the Papist Cardinal who now accused him of being not only faithless but also of being “yellow”. Again, after this, the ruler mustered up enough courage to order the construction of the altar.
The Papists of the island were celebrating their triumph while the Orthodox were deeply grieved. Their grief could not be comforted and with tears they begged for the Saint’s intervention to save them from the Papist abomination.
The Saint heard their prayers and intervened dynamically.
That evening, a terrible storm broke out, unleashing a barrage of thunderbolts on Fort Castelli, Pizani’s base and his ammunition barracks. The entire fort ended up in a holocaust. 900 Papist soldiers and civilians were instantly killed from the explosion, but not a single Orthodox was harmed (as they were not allowed inside the fort after dark). Pizani was found dead with his neck wedged between two wooden beams. The body of the Papist Cardinal was found thrown a great distance from the fort.
But the most incredible fact was that the same night and at the same hour, another thunderbolt struck in Venice, targeting the compound of Pizani, burning his portrait that hung on the wall. Strangely enough, nothing else was damaged. Also, the guard of the ammunition barracks saw the Saint draw near him with a lit torch. He was carried by the Saint near the church of the Crucified without a single scratch.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
Wounded by your love for Christ, O holy One, your mind given wings by the radiance of the Spirit, you put the practice of theory into deeds, becoming a sacred altar, O Chosen by God, and praying for the divine illumination of all.
Video from August 11, 2010 with Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens attending the litany in honor of the feast.