My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
On the 26th of October, Our Holy Orthodox Church Commemorates
the Great-Martyr and Wonder-worker DEMETRIOS the Myrrh-gushers.
Apolytikion Hymn (Dismissal Hymn) of the Martyr. Third Tone
A GREAT champion hath the whole world found thee to be when in
grave perils; for thou dost put to flight the heathen, O victorious one.
As thou didst humble Lyaeus’s arrogance and gavest boldness to
Nestor in the stadium, thus, O holy Great Martyr Demetrios, do thou
entreat Christ God, that we be granted great mercy.
Kontakion Hymn of the Martyr. Second Tone
GOD, Who hath given invincible strength, O Demetrios, hath adorned
the Church with the royal purple of the streams of thy blood and hath
kept thy city unharmed, for thou art the support thereof.
Demetrios, the Great Martyr, and athlete of Christ lived approximately three hundred years after the Nativity of Jesus Christ. He flourished at the time of the co-rulership of the Roman realm by Diocletian and Maximian Herculius, who were paired by the devil himself. They had appointed as Caesar one named Maximian Galerius, who lorded over Greece and Macedonia. His wife was the daughter of Diocletian Valerius, and he was also impious and in no wise would even hear the name of The Christ spoken. Wherever he found any Christian, he would attempt in different ways to put him to death. May Christians, indeed, were going to him of their own will that they might suffer martyrdom for the love of Christ. Among those Christians was Saint Demetrios.
In answer to prayers, he was born in A.D. 270 at Thessalonike, Greece of devout yet long-childless parents, who were secret Christians. At his birth, his father prepared a city-wide feat. Demetrios was carefully instructed by his parents, who were among the first and most distinguished rulers of the Macedonians. He was taught early in life the difference between the True God and the gods of their pagan neighbors. Demetrios was baptized at an early age, and he grew from strength to strength in virtue. From his childhood years, he was good, innocent, sweet, and humble.
By the time Demetrios attained his majority, he was generally deemed gallant, polite, and most honorable. He loved righteousness and abhorred injustice. His good fame and virtues were in the mouths of all, including those in the circle of Emperor Maximian Galerius. In an interview, the Emperor was impressed with the young man. Galerius selected Demetrios, out of all the leaders of Thessalonike, and elevated him to the rank, of Doux, that is, military Commander of all Thessaly.
It is important to remember that the holy man was given this dignity from Emperor Maximian not knowing that he was a Christian. When Saint Demetrios received the office, howeever, he mad it no secret that he was a Christian. He used the imperial appointment as milatary commander to protector the people. Day and night, he never left off teaching the word of God and faith in The Christ. He made it his chief labor to sow the see of piety in a suitable manner that was adapted to those souls who listened.
Many of the converts who came to the knowledge of God had been Greek pangans. They now disdained the idols and turned away from them, confessing and believing in the True God. The devil, the enemy of Truth, who always bears malice toward the souls of men, observed that the Christians were multiplying and the idolaters were diminishing in numbers. What he contrived to destroy the Saint, nonetheless, worked to the cevil’s own ruin. Saint Demetrios perceived in the Spirit that the time of his repose was drawing near, so instructed his devoted friend Loupos to distribute all his inheritance and belongings, while he prepared himself with fasting and prayer.
Emperor Maximian had just brought under Roman rule the Scythians and Sarmatians (nomdic tribal groups). Upon his return as victor, certain idolaters, went to him and declared, "Many years to your majesty! …Know thou, then, that Demetrios, whom your honored has renounced the religion of his fathers and believes in Christ, the One Who was crucified by the Hebrews and openly preaches that this Christ is the True God. Indeed, many persons have been deceived and misled by his words, and have abandoned their ancient beliefs and became Christians."
The Emperor, wishing to learn the truth for himself, he commanded that Demetrios be brought to him. The imperial officers immediately seized Demetrios and brought him before the Emperor. As he stood before the Emperor, far from being afraid, he was so filled with gladdness and good cheer that his countenance appeared bright, beautiful, and graceful from his joy.
The Emperor spoke to Demetrios, saying, "I did not expect such a lack of regard on thy part…you did not come forth even one mile from the city to meet me in advance?"
Hearing these things, the holy man replied, "O Emperor, I esteem thy monarchy; however, I honor, above thee, much more the God of heaven and earth, Who is the King of the cosmos. The Emperor asked, "And who is thy God and King?" The Saint answered, "The Lord Jesus Christ: He is True God and the Almighty King." The Emperor questioned him again, "In Him, therefore, thou believest, and for this reason thou does not accept us, O thou who art unworthy of honor? …And thou, O ungrateful man, dost recompense us with these thngs? I therefore shall render back to thee what is in accordance with thy defiled opinion. Thou shalt be tormented and punished with myriads of tortures and chastisements, sot aht thou mightiest learn who I am and who thou art, and what thy God is able to work on thy behalf." The Saint replied, "O Emperor, thy punishments and torments, with which thou threatenest me, I consider to be joy and gladness and to my benefit. For these shall usher in for me the Kingdom of the Heavens and uncearning honor."
The soldiers took the holy man and led himto be imprisoned, not in the usual prison, but in an unclean place. In prison an Angel of the Lord appeared over him, bearing a golden drown, and said to him, "Rejoice, Demetrios, soldier of Christ, be brave, be empowered, and conquer thien enemies." Having spoke thus, the Angel placed the crown upon the head of Christ’s holy martyr. Though the Saint pleased God, he longed for the hour of his death.
The Romans continued the custom of holding athletic games that the ancient Greeks initiated. He, the Emperor, designated that only one day would be scheduled for the events. He sat on a lofty place and observed the contestants. One of the participants was the Emperor’s hand-picked contender, named Lyaios, who was from a certain city of the Scythians called Wandeia. He was the tallest and strongest of the competitors, and on ewhom the Emperor esteemed and praised. Lyaios’ specialty was wrestling. As he competed and won every competition, the Emperor received great joy and bestowed rich gifts upon him.
There was a certain comely youth of Thessalonike, named Nestor, who was a secret Christians, and yet he was known by Saint Demetrios. Nestor, too, observed the contests and how Lyaios slew man after man. Nestor desired that the pagans should learn the power of God, Christ. Thus, he hastened to visit Saint Demetrios in the bathhouse, and said to him, "O servant of the True God, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and my superior…My soul reaches out to meet him in single combat, but only bless me and empower me so that I prevail over him." Saint Demetrios then made the sign of the Cross on Nestor’s forehead, and said to him,, "Go thou and prevail over Lyaios, and witness and suffer on behalf of Christ." Thus received the blessing of Sainit Demetrios, the holy Nestor, made ready to depart and went to the place where the contests were still in progress.
The Emperor gave Nestor leave to enter lists of combatants. The godly youth, Nestor, drew near to Lyaios, threw off his outer garment and shouted, "O God of Demetrios, do Thou help me!" Straightway, as soon as he uttered those words, he drew his dagger and dealt that proud man a fatal stabbing to his heart. Immediately, the giant Lyaios fell to the ground dead. When the Emperor witnessed the slaying of his favorite, he was angry and he grieved the loss of his champion and friend. The Emperor said to Nestor, "Young man, with what kind of magic did you conquer Lyaios? Nestor replied, "I, O Emperor, did not prevail over Lyaios with magic, but by the power of The Christ, the True God." When the defiled Emperor heard these words, he flew into a rage. He ordered one of his princess, name Marcian, to take Nestor outside the golden gate and to sever his head with his own dagger. Thus, Saint Nestor received the crown of the contest both on earth and in the heavens. He is commemorated by the Holy Orthodox Church on the 27th of October.
While grieving, the Emperor was told that Nestor shouted out Demetrios’ name, and that he must be implicated in the death of his friend. Without further evidence, the Emperor ordered his soldiers to slay the holy man Demetrios amid the columns in the subterranean chamber. The soldiers went to the bathhouse and marched in with their lances ready in their hands. They found the Saint standing at prayer. Without uttering a word, Saint Demetrios himself raised his right hand and received the first lance in his side, in the same place where our Savior was lanced on the Cross. The other soldiers then pierced his body all over with their lances. Such was the martyrdom of the Great-Martyr Demetrios, blessed Christians, whom we commemorate today, the 26th of October. After the soldiers fulfilled their commission, they left Saint Demetrios on the ground where he lay. Certain godly Christians came to the place secretly and found his holy relics on the ground. In that chamber where he struggled and suffered martyrdom, the Christians interred him.
Countless miracles are attributed to Saint Demetrios. In the Orthodox Church, not many Saints hae the distinction of being myrrh-streamers or myrrh-gushers. Together with Saint Demetrios, there are the widely known Saints Nicholas, Symeon Nemanja of Serbia and Hilandar. Simon of Simonopetra, and Neilos of Mount Athos. (Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church)
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God