O Lord Jesus Christ,
"The Jesus Prayer"
t the Church of Aghios Demetrios in Thessalonica -also spelled Thessalonike, the holy relics of St. Demetrios are up stairs in the main Church. The Church of Aghios Demetrios is a five-aisled basilica, with a narthex and a transept. Under the sanctuary and the transept there is the cyrpt. A chapel of Saint Euthymios is attached to the south-east corner of the church. Very few fragments of the sculptural and pictoral (mosaics, wall paintings) decoration of the church, survived the diastrous fire of 1917 but they are representative of the successive phases of the moument's history.
During the restoration of the monument after the fire of 1917, several trenches were opened in the naos and the crypt. Systematic excavatins were carried out in 1946-49.
Restoration of the church was undertaken immediately after the catastrophe of 1917. Work was stopped in 1938 and was again resumed in 1946. The monument was rebuilt and started to function again in 1949. Today the mounment is used as a church.
In the crypt of Aghios Demetrios, an exhibition is on display to the public. It includes the items that survived the fire of 1917 and those that were brought o light by the recent excavations in the monument.
The above source is from: "Hellenic Ministry of Culture", Thessalonike, Greece
he Church of St. Demetrios in Thessalonica was built over the site of his holy martyrdom - - the Roman bath in which he was imprisoned. This bath is preserved to this day in a crypt under the holy sanctuary of the Church. As I pointed out already a great fire broke out in 1917, which destroyed most the city, and this was the cause for the discover of the bath - - the floor of the sanctuary having fallen through. Among other things there was discovered the first chapel built over the place of Aghios Demetrios martyrdom (martyrium) with an earthen vessel planted in the Holy Table, containing earth with human blood - - evidently of the holy Martyr. A great marble basin was also discovered which was used to gather the holy myrrh from the grave of the holy Saint of our Lord God.
Aghios Demetrios is known in the holy Orthodox Church as the "MYRRH-BEARER". St. Demetrios of Thessalonica is one of the very few saints from whose relics, by the grace of God, there has flowed a fragrant and healing myrrh. Among other great myrr-bearers are St. Nicholas, St. Symeon of Serbia, and St. Nil of Mt. Athos, whose relics, unlike St. Demetrios, are preserved to this day.
About Aghios Demetrios we have this account: There lived once an ascetic on the Mount of Solomon who, hearing of the reports of the holy myrrh, had doubts, saying in his mind that there were many other great martyrs who suffered more than St. Demetrios, yet they were not honored by God in such a manner. And one night after he saw, as if in a dream, that he was in the Church of St. Demetrios and he met the man who had the keys to the tomb of the Saint, and he asked him to open it that he might venerate it. When he was kissing the shrine, he observed that it was wet with fragrant myrrh, and he said to thekeeper, "Come, help me did that we might see from whence comes this holy myrrh." They dug, therefore, and came to a large marble slab which they removed with great difficulty, and immediately there appeared the body of the Saint, shining and fragrant, from which welled up abundant myrrh coming from the openings of his holy body made by the piercings of the lances. There flowed so much myrrh that both the keeper and the ascetic were drenched, and fearing to be drowned, the monk cried out, "Saint Demetrios, help!" Whereupon, he awoke from this vision and found himself to be drenched with the holy myrrh.
Source: The Life of St. Demetrios of Thessalonica., The Orthodox Word, St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, Platina, California
Fr. Demetrios Serfes
would like to humbly present to you the life of the holy Great Martyr St. Demetrios the Myrrh-Bearer of Thessalonica, who is commemorated in the holy Orthodox Church on October 26th.
THE FEAST DAY of Aghios Demetrios is a great feast for all of Orthodoxy, but especially Thessalonica, which is his birthplace. His church is a building dating from the ancient Christian era, built one hundred years after his holy martyrdom which was in 296 A.D. But after 300 years it burned, and was rebuilt in the days of Leo the Wise.
St. Demetrios along with St. George are the two brave lads of Christianity. These two are below on earth, and the two Archangels Michael and Gabriel are above in heaven.
In ancient times there were painted without armor, but in later years they were depicted armored with swords and spears and dressed in metal breastplates. On one shoulder they have their helmet hanging, and on the other their shield. At the waist they are girded with the straps which hold the sheath of the sword and the quiver which has in the arrows and the bow. In recent years, after the conquest of Constantinople, these two saints, and many times other soldier satins also, are painted as riding horses, St. George on a white horse, St. Demetrios on a red one.
This armor which these Saints wear, depicts spiritual weapons, like those of which the holy Apostle Paul speaks saying, "Put on the armor of God, that you may be able to stand agains the wiles of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the Princeipalities and the Powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, agains the spiritual forces of wickedness on high. Therefore tak up the armor of God that you may be able to resist in the evil day, adn stand in all things perfect. Stand, therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of justice and having your feet shod with the readiness of the Gospel of peace, in all things taking up the shied of faith, with which you may be able to quench all the fiery darts of the most wicked one. And take uunto you the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, that is, the word of God" (Eph.6:11-17). This heroic and perserving character, which the warriors have who were martyred for Christ like harmless and innocent sheep, has reference to spiritual things.
AGHIOS 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, there reigned in Rome Diocletian, 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, firce-faced, strong-jawed, grim-mouthed, with short thick necks like barrels, ruthless, and therrifying. He in turn appointed Demetrios ruler of Thessalonica and all Thesaalia. When Maximian returned from a certain war, he gathered the officers of Thessalonica in order to offer 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. And all the while he was imprisoned, the populace ran with mourning to hear Demetrios teach the people 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 great honor a certain henchman Lyaeus, a beastly man, brass-knuckled, an idolator and blasphemer, brought from some barbarous nation. Nestor, seeing that this Lyaeus had defeated all the 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.
Aghios Demetrios prayed and made the sign of the Cross over him, and immediately Nestor ran to the stadium and wrestled with that fierce giant, and he threw him down, and slew him. Then Maximian became beside himself with rage and learning that Nestor was a Christian and that St. Demetrios had blessed him, he ordered the soldiers to have them put to death.
And they going to the bath lanced St. Demetrios (note holy icon above top of the page) 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 there ran blood and water from the wound. Nestor was beheaded the next day (holy Martyr Nestor of Thessalonica is commemorated in the holy Orthodox Church on the 27th of October) outside the wall at the place of the Golden Gate with his own sword.
The holy 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. In 1143 the Emperor Manuel Comnenos sent from Constantinople and brought the holy icon of the Saint which was at his tomb and put in the Monastery of Pantocrator, whose church was build by the Comneni and is called today Zeirek.
This then is the holy martyrdom of Aghios 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
D E M E T R I O S,
PRAY UNTO GOD FOR US!