December 12, 2022

Saint Spyridon and the Proud Deacon

On the island of Cyprus there was a village called Erytra. This village was not far from the Metropolis of Constantia. Saint Spyridon went there one time to see to some affairs and, while there, went into the church. It was the season of the harvest, the weather was extremely hot and the bishop was very tired from the journey. During the service which was taking place, he told one of the serving deacons to abbreviate one of the prayers. The deacon not only ignored what he had been told to do, but instead he prolonged the prayer, chanting and singing with pride, full of vain glory because he knew he had a good voice.

Saint Spyridon is known for being kind and gentle when dealing with people, but disobedience and pride in oneself were simply not to be tolerated. The bishop became very angry with the deacon and reprimanded him for his disobedience, saying sternly, "Be quiet!"

At once, the deacon had no voice; not only could he not sing melodiously as before, but he was as mute as if he had no tongue. Everyone in the church was struck by this deed, and word of what had happened spread immediately throughout the village. Everyone came into the church to see what had happened.

The deacon fell at the Saint's feet in silence, begging him to loosen his tongue. Others, both friends and relatives of the deacon, also interceded before Spyridon on his behalf. Finally, Spyridon was moved to pity, and forgave the proud cleric, for the Lord who gave the Apostles the power to 'bind' also bestowed on them the power to 'loose.' The Saint absolved the deacon, allowing the power of speech to return to him, but he left a sign of reproach on him because of his disobedience and pride: even though the deacon could speak, he no longer had a strong voice; instead, he stuttered, fumbling over his speech, and the source of his pride, his singing voice, no longer existed.