Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Forgotten Corfu 7: A door leading nowhere near St. Spyridon church

  Tomorrow (11th of August) we celebrate the Saint Spyridon's miracle against the Turkish invansion of 1716.  So in this occasion, I visited the open space in the front of His church called "Πλακάδα του Αγιού" to spot one detail connected to this miracle: a door leading nowhere. It wasn't difficult to spot it as on my right hand and very close to the church there was a quite big traditional door which seems out of place. Actually it is stucked between two old venetian buildings. Behind that door there is a narrow lane created by the space between those two old buildings. 
  Legend has it that this door was the entrance of a latin chapel dedicated to the great miracle of St. Spyridon which was never built because St. Spyridon did not want a catholic establishment on the foot of His house. The result of his anger was the tragic death of one venetian general called Andrea Pizani who was responsible for that construction. The official version of this legend says that the venetians wanted to built a marble altar inside the church but there are some Corfiots who say that the door outside was a part of a latin chapel as well.

The door which they say it belonged to a never built latin chapel

A close-up 
The narrow lane behind the door

   The official version of the miracle is below:
  "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."
(Taken from http://patristic.eastern-orthodoxy.com/StSpyridon.htm)

  Legend or reality? Who can tell! Corfu is full of stories and legends which have already survived to the our times.

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