The Passion of the Holy, Glorious, Great-Martyr of Christ, Demetrios

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.

The Twenty-Sixth Day of the Month of October--THE PASSION OF THE HOLY, GLORIOUS GREAT-MARTYR OF CHRIST, DEMETRIOS

The holy great-martyr Demetrios was born in the city of Thessaloniki and was the son of noble and pious parents. His father was the Military Governor of Thessaloniki and secretly believed in our Lord Jesus Christ and labored for Him. He did not dare, however, to confess the Lord's Most Holy Name openly, for at that time the impious and pagan emperors were tormentors of Christians and had raised up a great persecution against the faithful. Since he feared the threats of the cruel and iniquitous rulers, he hid within himself the pearl of great price, the faith which is in Christ. But in his palace he secretly kept two holy icons, adorned with gold and precious stones, one of our Incarnate Savior and the other of the Most Holy Theotokos. A lamp always burned before them, and he censed them with incense; and together with his wife, who also believed in Christ, he prayed to the True God, Who dwells in the heavens, to His Only-begotten Son, and to our immaculate Lady. This pious couple was exceedingly merciful to the poor and gave abundant alms to those who asked of them. But they had no children, and this grieved them greatly; therefore, they prayed God fervently that He grant them an heir.

In a short time their prayer was heard, and they were granted a child, the holy and blessed Demetrios. All Thessaloniki rejoiced with its Governor, who had a feast prepared for the entire city and especially for the poor, to thank God for the gift He had bestowed upon them.

When the boy reached an age at which he could know and understand truth, his parents took him into the room where they prayed. They showed him the holy icons and said, "This is the depiction of the One, True God, Who made heaven and earth, and this is the image of the Most Pure Virgin Theotokos." They instructed Demetrios in the holy Faith and in everything which leads the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. They explained to him, moreover, how vain are the vile gods of the heathen (pagans) and their lifeless idols. Through his parents' teaching and especially through the workings of the grace of God within him, Demetrios came to know the Truth. He believed in God with his whole heart, bowed down before the holy icons, and kissed them reverently. After this his parents secretly summoned a priest and certain of the Christians whom they knew, and in their hidden chapel they had their son baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

After the child was baptized, he received instruction in the law of God. As he grew, his understanding was strengthened, and he ascended from rung to rung on the ladder of virtue. The grace of God, which was upon him, enlightened the boy and made him wise. When he had already reached manhood, his parents departed from the temporal life, leaving Saint Demetrios both their possessions and the example of their good deeds.

As soon as the pagan Roman emperor Maximian learned of the repose of the Military Governor, he summoned his son Demetrios. The emperor perceived that Demetrios was an intelligent and brave man, and so he made him the new Governor of Thessaloniki. He said to the Saint, "Protect the city in which you were born and cleanse it of the impious Christians. Put to death all who call upon the name of the Crucified One."

After he had received the governorship, Saint Demetrios returned to Thessaloniki where he was received with honor by the citizens. Immediately, he began to confess and to glorify the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and he instructed all the people in the holy Faith. He became a second Apostle Paul to the citizens of Thessaloniki, leading them to know the True God and uprooting the ungodliness of polytheism. But within a short time the emperor Maximian learned that his Governor Demetrios was a Christian and had led many to his Faith. When the emperor heard of this he was enraged. At that time he was returning from a campaign against the Sarmatians, and so he went to Thessaloniki. Before the emperor reached the city, St. Demetrios put into the hands of a trusted servant named Lupus all his possessions, the wealth he had inherited from his parents, his gold and silver, precious stones, and raiment. He instructed Lupus to distribute these things quickly to the poor and needy, saying, "Give away my earthly riches and let us seek the wealth of heaven."

Then Saint Demetrios began to pray and to fast, preparing himself to receive the crown of martyrdom. As soon as the emperor began to make enquiry as to the truth of what was said concerning Demetrios, the saint hastened to appear before him, boldly confessing himself to be a Christian and reviling the polytheism of the pagans. The emperor then ordered that St. Demetrios be imprisoned. There the Saint prayed in the words of King David, "O God, be attentive unto helping me; O Lord, make haste to help me. For Thou art my patience, O Lord; O Lord, Thou art my hope from my youth. On Thee have I been made fast from the womb; from my mother's womb Thou art my protector. In Thee continually is my singing of praise, I will chant unto my God for as long as I have my being. My lips shall rejoice when I chant unto Thee; moreover, my tongue will meditate on Thy righteousness all the day long" (Psalms: 69, 70, 145, 70).

Saint Demetrios sat in the dungeon chanting unto God and glorifying Him as though he were in a bright chamber. Wishing to frighten him, the devil transformed himself into a scorpion and tried to sting the Saint's foot. But the Saint signed himself with the Cross and fearlessly stamped upon the scorpion, while repeating David's words, "Upon the asp and basilisk shalt thou tread, and thou shalt trample upon the lion and dragon" (Psalm 90).

As Saint Demetrios was sitting in prison, he was visited by a most brilliant Angel, who appeared to him wearing a crown from paradise. The Angel said, "Peace be to you, O martyr of Christ. Take courage and be strong!"

The Saint replied, "I rejoice in the Lord and delight in God my Savior!"

This vision set afire the Saint's heart with love for God, and he was filled with a fervent desire that his blood be shed for the Lord.

While Saint Demetrios was imprisoned, the emperor was amusing himself with games in the circus. Now Maximian had a renowned wrestler name Lyaeus, who belonged to the tribe of the Vandals. The emperor ordered that a high platform be constructed in the arena, and he entertained himself by watching Lyaeus wrestle other brave men and cast them down on spears below. It happened that there was a young man present named Nestor, a Christian known to Saint Demetrios. When Nestor saw how Lyaeus slew many and that he was especially eager to slaughter Christians without mercy, he was set aflame with zeal and wished to contend with the Vandal. He went to Saint Demetrios, who sat in prison, and told him how the wrestler Lyaeus had killed numerous Christians. He asked the Saint's prayers and his blessing to contest with that pitiless manslayer. Saint Demetrios signed him with the Cross and said, "You shall prevail over Lyaeus and be deemed worthy to suffer for Christ."

As Nestor hastened to the arena, he cried out in a loud voice, "O God of Demetrios, help me!"

Nestor then entered into contest with the mighty foe, hurling him to a bitter death on the sharp spears below. The emperor was grieved greatly by Leyaeus' death and immediately commanded that the blessed Nestor be beheaded with the sword. But the emperor could find no consolation in his sorrow and lamented for Lyaeus all that day and through the night. When he learned that Saint Demetrios had blessed Nestor to contend with Lyaeus and to slay him, he ordered that the Saint be run through with lances. Since Lyaeus perished when he was cast down upon spears by Saint Nestor, the persecutor desired that Saint Demetrios also be slain with lances. "Let him perish in the same manner as did our champion, whose death he caused," said the emperor.

But the senseless persecutor was deceived, supposing that the repose of a Saint could be like that of a sinner, for "the death of sinners is evil" while "precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His Saints" (Psalm 115).

When the Twenty-Sixth day of October dawned, soldiers entered the prison where they found Saint Demetrios standing at prayer. They pierced him with their lances, and he surrendered his honorable and holy soul into the hands of Christ the Lord, Who was likewise pierced by a spear. His body was cast out and lay upon the ground in dishonor until the faithful came by night, took it secretly, and buried it.

Saint Demetrios' trusted servant Lupus, who was previously mentioned, was present in the prison when the Saint was run through with spears by the soldiers. He dipped his finger in his master's blood and took his lord's blood-soaked robe and worked many miracles with that robe and with his finger. He healed every disease and cast out evil spirits, and as a result, word of these marvels spread throughout Thessaloniki, and all who were ill began to come to him. When Maximian learned of this, he commanded that the blessed Lupus be seized and beheaded. Thus did Saint Demetrios' good servant follow his master unto the Lord, for where the master is, there should his servant be also.

Once, there was a great famine in Thessaloniki, and the people began to die from lack of food. Unable to bear to see the inhabitants of this city perish from hunger, the Saint appeared openly to sailors as he went about various ports, harbors, and islands. He commanded the masters of ships loaded with wheat to sail to Thessaloniki, thus delivering his city from starvation.

When the pious Emperor Justinian built the most splendid and wondrous Church of the Wisdom of God in Constantinople, he sent distinguished men to Thessaloniki to bring a portion of their holy relics of Saint Demetrios for the consecration of the newly erected church. They reached Thessaloniki and entered the church in which the Saint's revered sepulchre was to be found. However, when they drew near and attempted to fulfill the Emperor's command, sparks of fire were showered upon them, and they heard a terrifying voice say out of the fire, "Stand back and do not dare to approach!"

All those present fell to the floor in fear. The men took only some earth from the ground near the sepulchre, and they returned to the emperor. Those who heard report of this were amazed. The men gave to the Emperor half the earth they had taken from near the tomb of the Saint, while the remainder was place in the vestry of the Church of Holy Wisdom (Agia Sofia).

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Apolytikion in Third Mode

The world has found in you a great champion in time of peril, as you emerged the victor in routing the barbarians. For as you brought to naught the boasts of Lyaios, imparting courage to Nestor in the stadium, in like manner, holy one, great Martyr Dimitrios, invoke Christ God for us, that He may grant us His great mercy.

Kontakion Hymn. Second Mode

God, Who gave you invincible power and with care kept your city invulnerable, royally clothed the Church in purple with the streams of your blood, for you are her strength, O Dimitrios.

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DIVINE SERVICES TODAY:

Orthros (Matins) at 9:00 a.m.
Divine Liturgy at 10:00 a.m.

Location: Saint Andrew Church

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MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU

The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

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"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"

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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George