Macedonia : Saint Demetrius of Thessaloniki

Saint Demetrius

Saint Demetrius and children. 7th-century mosaic from Hagios Demetrios, Thessaloniki, in Macedonia (Northern Greece)

Saint Demetrius of Thessaloniki (Greek: Άγιος Δημήτριος της Θεσσαλονίκης) was a Christian martyr, who lived in the early 4th century.

During the Middle Ages, he came to be revered as one of the most important Orthodox military saints, often paired with Saint George. His feast day is 26 October for Christians following the Gregorian calendar and 8 November for Christians following the Julian calendar.

Saint Demetrius was born and educated in Thessalonike (Macedonia in Greece), where he exercised the profession of Rhetor or Public Speaker. He made many converts to Christianity. Some say that he became a high Officer of State and even a Proconsul. But this is hardly probable.

Arrested as a Christian and brought before Diocletianus’s  colleaue, Galerius Maximianus. He appears to have been stabbed to death without the formality attending a legal excecution. This was in one of the first years of the 4rth century.

His very large church in Thessaloniki, the Hagios Demetrios, dates from the mid-5th century, so he clearly had a large following by then. Thessaloniki remained a centre of his veneration, and he is the patron saint of the city.

After the growth of his veneration as saint, the city of Thessaloniki suffered repeated attacks and sieges from the invading newcomers, Slavs who moved into the Balkans, and Demetrius was credited with many miraculous interventions to defend the city.

 Hence later traditions about Saint Demetrius of Thessaloniki regard him as a soldier in the Roman army, and he came to be regarded as an important military martyr.

His relics are in great veneration in the East and a magnificent Basilica was soon after his martyrdom erected over his tomb at Thessalonica. On account of the many miracles that have taken place at the shrine St’ Demetrius has always been in great honeour in the East and his name is frequently given in Baptism to children.

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