Traveling to Bethlehem (12 December 2010)

St. Spyridon of Trimythous

St. Spyridon of Trimythous

All these icons look alike! How many time have we Orthodox heard this comment about icons.  The reality is that there are subtle differences, often with great theological meaning.  Today, is one of these times.  The saint who we commemorate today is St Spyridon of Thymithous. Look closely, what is different about this icon?  We see the familiar icon of a hierarch of the Church with his ecclesial vestments and carrying the Gospel book.  Not much different from many icons we see in the Church.  But, when we look closely we notice a strange hat on the figure.  Most icons of the hierarchs are bare headed, what is the meaning of this strange triangular hat.  By reading a bit, we discover that St. Spyridon had been a shepherd and was elected bishop because of his great piety.  What did Spyridon do then? According to the Prologue of Ohrid, he continued to live simply and care for his livestock.  He also shepherded his spiritual flock the people of his diocese.  He was devoted to being a shepherd of souls. As we know, St. Spyridon was present at the first Ecumenical Council. A country bishop from a backwater diocese, really an unsophisticated, uneducated delegate.  As his story tells us, the Holy Spirit enlightened Spyridon to expound the true theology of Christ, fully man and fully God.  While he preached the truth, Arian one of the most erudite scholars in the Empire was put to shame.  A shepherd and a bishop; perhaps our modern hierarchs can remember that they are at their hearts – simple shepherds.