St. Demetrius icon (3)
Orthodox icon of Saint Demetrius, Demetrios, Myrrh gusher of Thessalonica. Icon made around 1300 AD., Monastery of Vatopaidi, Mount Athos. (3)
Commemorated October 26th.
By the time Demetrius had reached maturity and his father had died, the emperor Galerius Maximian had ascended the throne (305). Maximian, confident in Demetrius education as well as his administrative and military abilities, appointed him to his father's position as proconsul of the Thessalonica district. The main tasks of this young commander were to defend the city from barbarians and to eradicate Christianity. The emperor's policy regarding Christians was expressed simply, Put to death anyone who calls on the name of Christ.
Accepting the appointment, Demetrius returned to Thessalonica and immediately confessed and glorified our Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of persecuting and executing Christians, he began to teach the Christian Faith openly to the inhabitants of the city and to overthrow pagan customs and idolatry. When Maximian learned that the newly-appointed proconsul was a Christian, and that he had converted many Roman subjects to Christianity, the rage of the emperor know no bounds.
Returning from a campaign in the Black Sea region, the emperor decided to lead his army through Thessalonica, determined to massacre the Christians. Learning of this, St Demetrius ordered his faithful servant Lupus to distribute his wealth to the poor saying, Distribute my earthly riches among them, for we shall seek heavenly riches for ourselves. He began to pray and fast, preparing himself for martyrdom. Maximian gave orders to lock up the confessor in prison. An angel appeared to him, comforting and encouraging him.
At dawn on October 26, 306 soldiers appeared in the saint's underground prison and ran him through with lances. During the reign of St Constantine (306-337), a church was built over the grave of St Demetrius. A hundred years later, during the construction of a majestic new church on the old spot, the incorrupt relics of the holy martyr were uncovered. Since the seventh century a miraculous flow of fragrant myrrh has been found beneath the crypt of the Great Martyr Demetrius, so he is called the Myrrh-gusher. St Demetrius is regarded as a protector of the young, and is also invoked by those struggling with temptations.
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