Church of Agios Spyridonas (Corfu)
At the centre of the city of Corfu dominates the church of its patron saint, Agios Spyridon, an important post Byzantine monument with works of art from important artists, but also the point of reference to the religious life of the island in modern times.
The church was constructed between 1589 and 1594, in the period of the Venetian Occupation, and was renovated in 1670. It belongs to the type of aisleless wooden-roofed basilica and is simple on the exterior, with influences from the West. Characteristic is the very tall, tower-like steeple, which was constructed in 1590 and is identical to the church of San Giorgios dei Greci in Venice.
At the church’s interior what is impressive is the “ourania”, the illustrated flat roof, the first example of this type in Corfu. It was created in 1727 by the important painter from Corfu Panagiotis Doxaras, and consists of seventeen sections, which depict scenes from the life of Agios Spyridon inside gold frames. Then initial icons were destroyed by humidity and in 1852 they were restored by the painter Nikolaos Aspiotis. Other important works are the Crucified, of the 17th century, which is attributed to the famous Cretan painter Emmanuel Tzane Bouniales, as well as the icon of Agias Loukias, work of the painter from Corfu Spyridon Sperantzas, in 1772.
Also remarkable is the marble screen, of 1864, from marble from Paros, with icons of the painter from Corfu Spyridon Prosalentis, and the marble pulpit. Of special value are the elaborate sacred items which are donations from wealthy people of Corfu, mainly as a commemoration of the miracles made by the saint, like the oil lamps that were dedicated in 1716, when the people of Corfu were saved form the Turks. From the most precious items of the church is the luxurious silver reliquary with the relic of the saint, which was constructed in Vienna in 1867.
The history of Corfu is connected to Agios Spyridon and the people of the island honor him in grandeur many times through the year.
The church celebrates on the 12th of December, but there are celebrations in memory of the miracles of the saint, on Palm Sunday, on Good Saturday (salvation of the people from famine), on the 11th of August (salvation of the people of the island from the Turks) and on the first Sunday in November.