Tom Mitrakos is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Political Science and Economics, was co-captain of the football team, and was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers. He also has a teaching degree in secondary education, and taught Sunday school for 15 years at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Pittsburgh. For the past 35 years he has been a homebuilder. He has made many pilgrimages to Mt. Athos and to the U.S. monasteries of St. Anthony’s in Arizona, Holy Archangels in Texas, and St. Nectarios in New York. He was instrumental in establishing the first Greek Orthodox monastery in America for Elder Ephraim, in an effort to help monasticism gain a foothold in America. Tom created and has been writing the Daily Lives, Miracles, and Wisdom of the Saints & Fasting Calendar for the last 20 years. It is sold in the United States, Canada, and around the world, and can be purchased online at www.LivesoftheSaintsCalendar.com. His other book, Wisdom of the Divine Philosophers, is a compilation of wisdom and writings of the saints, which are categorized by subject, such as humility, sin, love, faith, etc. He also writes a satire column for local newspapers about things that set his teeth on edge, and will soon be writing a blog for the Huffington Post. Tom is married to Georgia, and they have three talented sons – Nicholas, Michael, and Gabriel.
There are some saints that I can relate to better than others. Saint Spyridon is one of them. Reading about his life and miracles has always had an impact on me.
His prayers could start and stop the rain. He once went to his daughter’s grave and asked her a question, as if awakening her from sleep, and she answered him. He raised a baby from the dead, and when the mother was struck dead from joy, he also raised her. At the first council of Nicaea, he explained the Holy Trinity by holding up a rock in his hand – water came out of the bottom, and fire burned at the top. His prayer once turned a snake into gold to be used as collateral, so that a poor man would not lose his home. When he returned the gold, Saint Spyridon turned it back into a snake, and it slithered away.
So while we were in Greece one summer, we made a pilgrimage to Corfu to visit with him and venerate his relics, which rest in a glass coffin in the church. As we knelt there beside him, he looked as if he was asleep, but his skin was gray. I was humbled by the experience. We had heard that he miraculously walks about at night helping people in need, and that his slippers are changed periodically because they wear out. And just as we were leaving the church, a sweet man ran up to us and gave us several snippets of the saint’s old slippers.
A few days later, there was a parade in Saint Spyridon’s honor. He was carried through the streets upright in his coffin, drums banging in a festive atmosphere, and the faithful crowding the streets. It was raucous. As I watched, I felt sad for Saint Spyridon. He was continually jostled about, his head sometimes bumping the sides of the coffin. In that moment, I felt compassion and love for him.
To this day, the saint’s prayers work many miracles.
Saint Spyridon is remembered on December 12th and is the patron saint of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Detroit.
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