Palm Sunday, the great feast of Christianity, in Kerkyra is celebrated together with the commemoration of the miracle of Saint Spyridon, whereby the Saint saved the residents of the island from a deadly epidemic of the plague in 1630.
Every year on this day, after the Divine Liturgy, as a sign of remembrance and in honor of Saint Spyridon, a long procession takes place throughout the old town of Kerkyra, and a prayer of entreaty is read on the spot where stood the old walls of the city and the non-preserved Church of Saint Athanasius.
According to tradition, in 1630 by miraculous intervention Saint Spyridon saved Kerkyra from the plague, a deadly pestiferous terrible disease.
According to historical sources, the illness broke out in Kerkyra in October of 1629. It was transferred from a ship that arrived in Kerkyra from Italy.
The illness affected Italy and all the Ionian Islands. On Christmas of 1629 four cases were identified in Kerkyra and as time passed it proliferated.
Despite the stringent measures taken by the health authorities, the evil did not subside. People fled to the intercessions of Saint Spyridon, their greatest and last hope.
Indeed, as it is written, the Saint did not remain unmoved by the entreaties and prayers of the people.
Shortly before the days of Pascha many of the sick saw him in their dreams blessing them and giving them their health.
Also, the night watchmen of the Old Fortress would see a supernatural light hovering over the church of the Saint.
Slowly, slowly, day by day, the incidence decreased until they ceased on Palm Sunday in 1630.
The people of Kerkyra attributed their salvation to a miracle of Saint Spyridon and they established from that time that on Palm Sunday a procession would take place with his sacred relic.
The procession on this day is longer than all the others and the distance covers the perimeter of the Post-Byzantine city of Kerkyra.
Saint Spyridon is celebrated four times a year in Kerkyra in commemoration of local miracles.
1. On Palm Sunday in commemoration of the salvation of the island from the cholera of 1630.
2. On Holy Saturday when a procession takes place in commemoration of the salvation of the island from the plague of 1550.
3. On the first Sunday of November in commemoration of the salvation of the island from the deadly cholera of 1673.
4. On August 11th in commemoration of the island being rescued from the siege of the Turks in 1716.
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.