Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries
When and how cholera and the plague were eliminated miraculously
* In Kerkyra (Corfu), 1630
* In Constantinople, 1910
1630: Saint Spyridon saves Corfu from the plague
The witnessed vision of Saint Spyridon driving out the Plague with a Crucifix, old icon
Contrary to the recommendations of their doctors to avoid crowding, the faithful population dared to hasten to the holy temple of their patron Saint Spyridon in tears, and in fact overcrowding it.... and salvation wasn’t long in arriving!
Could it be about time we did the same?
Around 1629-30 A.D. a new tribulation struck the blessed island of Kerkyra (Corfu). It was a contagious and deadly disease, which had now struck without discerning or mercy. It was the plague.
Men and women, young and old, rich and poor were infected daily by this accursed pestilence and were dying both in the city as well as the countryside in the villages. With the onset of the first cases, the island’s administration hastened to vote on assigning a huge sum of money in an attempt to contain the spread of the disease. But their struggle was in vain.
Not long after, the beautiful island of Corfu was on the brink of becoming totally deserted. Shops both in the city as well as the other major centres were closed. The only things moving on the streets every now and then were a few horse-drawn carts loaded with corpses, which took their macabre loads outside the city for mass burials. The island was an overall tragic picture to behold...
One day, amid this earth-shattering tragedy, and contrary to the recommendations of their doctors to avoid crowding, the faithful albeit suffering populace dared to hasten en masse to the holy temple of their patron Saint Spyridon (and in fact overcrowding it), where, with crushed souls and burning tears they begged for his intercession. And salvation wasn’t long in arriving. It was offered swiftly and bounteously.
Corfu’s historian Andreas Marmoras who was alive at the time tells us that –despite the shortage of necessary medicines- the fearsome epidemic very soon was confined to a minimum, and that by Palm Sunday, it had vanished altogether.
During all of the nights that the city was being tormented by the disease, above the roof of the Saint’s temple one could see something that glowed like an otherworldly lamp. It was understood as a sign that the Saint was keeping vigil and guarding his people. This was the explanation given by all the faithful. The glow was constantly visible by the night watchmen standing guard atop their watchtowers.
This terrible epidemic – the plague – reappeared a second time in Corfu, about 40 years later, in 1673 A.D.. Once again, the epidemic spread swiftly throughout towns and villages. Again, the cases were more than many. The Grim Reaper’s scythe was once again harvesting a very large number of the island’s populace.
Icon inside the temple of Saint Spyridon, portraying the Saint driving away the Plague with a Crucifix
Upon the supplications of his people, the wonder-working Saint hastened to again deposit their contrition and tears - along with his own - before the throne of divine Majesty, beseeching Him and finally receiving heavenly mercy to save them.
The words of the Spirit of God: “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me” (Psalm 50:15) were truly realized in this case. To the supplications of the divine Hierarch and the repentant people, God’s response did not delay. Day by day, the the spread of the disease decreased to a minimum, and in the last days of October, they abruptly ended. And again, above the church belfry for three nights the people could see a steady glow, and in that otherworldly light, the hovering form of the saint holding a Crucifix in his hand and fending off a pitch-black ghostly form (the disease) that was trying to avoid the Saint and escape.
The gratitude and the thanks of the faithful people were once again immense. With an Enactment by the Venetian Administration at the time, it was appointed that from then on, every first Sunday of November there would be a celebratory Litany of the Saint’s Sacred Relics throughout the land, so that the people – and especially the younger generations – may remember the island’s true and ever-vigilant protector and saviour.
1910: How Cholera was stopped in Constantinople
The precious relic of the Theotokos' Cincture preserved in its reliquary. The image inside the lid commemorates the miracle that vanquished cholera from the City
«In the year 1910 an accursed disease once again befell Constantinople and its environs: cholera. People were dying by the hundreds every day, making it impossible to bury such large numbers – regardless of their race and religion: Christians, Armenians, Muslims and Jews. The population especially of Constantinople, in dread and helplessness desperately sought its salvation. The Temples of the Orthodox and the Armenians, the Mosques and the Synagogues were full to bursting every day, with their congregants begging with tears and desperation for divine intervention to put an end to the evil. And yet, the accursed pestilence continued its destructive opus...
Constantinople was a horrible sight to see; all activity and liveliness had died within it. Then, all of a sudden the Christian population in its state of desperation recalled the previous occurrence of 1871 in the days of Patriarch Anthimos VI Koutalianos, and in one voice asked that the Precious Cincture (waistband) of the Theotokos be brought back, from its safekeeping in the Holy Mountain.
The Holy Synod convened an emergency Meeting, and with the proposal of the blessed Patriarch Joachim III, it was decided to dispatch a committee to the Holy Mountain, to bring back to the City (which was paralysed by death and fear) the holiest treasure of our piety. Taking into account the relative Patriarchal Letters, the Sacred Synaxis of the Holy Mountain immediately ordered two of its most prominent Fathers to accompany the Precious Cincture to the suffering City.
Relief and joyful shouts of hope resounded throughout the City, when the people heard from the Patriarchy that very soon their salvation would be arriving.
On the day of arrival of the Patriarchal representatives together with the Hagiorite Fathers who were accompanying the Precious Cincture, from before daybreak a host of people regardless of their race and religion – Orthodox, Armenians, Muslims and Jews – had already flooded the main square outside the Railway Station of Serkitzi.
Per the scheduled time, the Ecumenical Patriarch Joachim III, encircled by Hierarchs of the Patriarchal Court and a host of priests, had arrived there, in order to receive the Precious Cincture of the Theotokos, which the populace was so desperately awaiting, to rid them of the pestilence.
The importance that both the Sultan Hamit and the Turkish Government had acknowledged for the transportation of the Precious Cincture was made evident by the reception that the Turkish Government had provided, on the instruction of the Sultan. A military company with double rows of officers at the head had arrayed themselves in front of the Serkitzi Station, to pay their respects to the precious relic of Orthodoxy, whose power the peoples of Constantinople were well familiar with, during the year 1871.
The elderly Ecumenical Patriarch Joachim III was the first to approach and greet the Precious Cincture. On receiving it in his hands from the hands of the Holy Mountain Fathers, he proceeded on foot, ahead of the Hierarchs, the Priests, the Cantors, between the double rows of soldiers and the Christians, Armenians, Muslims and Jews following after them, and walked all the long road from Serkitzi Station to the Phanar, where he deposited the sacred treasure inside the Patriarchal temple, for veneration by the public.
Night vigils and Liturgies were served constantly; infinite crowds flooded the Patriarchal temple every day, with tearful supplications for their survival.
The accursed disease began to subside, its victims greatly lessened, until – within a very few days – the City of Constantine was completely rid of the pestilence.
The Precious Cincture was asked for by other Provinces fraught with cholera, such as Proussa and elsewhere; upon the presence of the holy relic, the disease disappeared, given that all the peoples – regardless of their race and religion – had been saved from the everyday threat of death».
Article published : 24-8-2021/span>./span>
LLast update: 24-8-2021.