Saint Demetrios

The Great Martyr and Myrovletes (myrrh-emitting), was born in Thessalonica in 260 A.D.

His parents were illustrious people and along with the transitory glory which Demetrios had from his family, he was adorned with imperishable virtues, with prudence, with sweetness, with humility, with justice, and with every noble comeliness of the soul.

All these were like precious stones which shone on the crown which he wore, and this crown was the faith in Christ.

In those days, Diocletian reigned in Rome, and he had appointed as caesar in the parts of Macedonia and the East a hard-hearted and bloodthirsty general who was called Maximian, a beast in human form as were all those military rulers (polemarchs) who then ruled the world with the sword: Diocletian, Maxentius, Maximian, Galerius, Licinius — hard headed, fierce-faced, strong-jawed, grim-mouthed, with short thick necks like barrels, ruthless, and terrifying. He in turn appointed Demetrios ruler of Thessalonica and all Thesalia.

When Maximian returned from a certain war, he gathered the officers of Thessalonica in order to offer a sacrifice to the idols. Then Demetrios revealed that he was a Christian, and did not accept hewn stones as gods.

Maximian went into a rage and ordered that he be tried and imprisoned in a bath. While he was imprisoned, the mourning populace ran to hear Demetrios teach the word of Christ. A young lad, Nestor, also went every day and heard his teaching.

During those days, many brave men fought in the stadium and Maximian rejoiced at these spectacles. He even had a certain henchman Lyaeus, a beastly man, brass-knuckled, an idolator and blasphemer, who was brought from some barbarous nation. Nestor, seeing that Lyaeus had defeated all and boasted that he had the strength of Ares, the pagan god of war, and that no native dared wrestle with him, went to the prison and besought St. Demetrios to bless him to defeat and put to shame Lyaeus and Maximian and their religion.

Saint Demetrios prayed and made the sign of the Cross over him, and immediately Nestor
ran to the stadium and wrestled with that fierce giant,he threw him down, and slew him. Maximian became beside himself with rage and upon learning that Nestor was a Christian and that St. Demetrios had blessed him, ordered the soldiers to have them both put to death.

The soldiers went to the bath and lanced St. Demetrios with their spears, and thus he received the eternal crown on the 26th of October, 296 A.D., at the age of thirty-six. It is written that when he saw the soldeirs thrusting their spears at him, he raised high his arm and they lanced him in the side, so that he might be deemed worthy to receive the lancing which Christ received in His side, and blood and water ran from the wound. Nestor was beheaded with his own sword the next day (holy Martyr Nestor of Thessalonica is commemorated in the holy Orthodox Church on the 27th of October) outside the walls at the place of the Golden.

The Christians took the holy remains and buried them side by side, and from the grave of St. Demetrios there came forth holy myrrh which cured many diseases. For this reason he is called Myrovletes. Over his holy grave and the place of his holy martyrdom there was built a church in the form of a basilica which stands to this day.

This then is the holy martyrdom of Saint Demetrios the Great Martyr and Myrrh-bearer, who loved our Savior above all things of this life – – pleasures, wealth, honors – – and longed to be dissolved that he might be found with Him in the celestial Kingdom, through whose prayers may we also be deemed worthy of like fate. Amen.

Source: The Orthodox Word, St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, Platina, California