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Saint Demetrius

Also known as Saint Demetrius the Great Martyr, Saint Demetrius the Megalomartyr, Saint Demetrius the Myrrh-Streamer, Saint Dimitri, and Saint Demetrius of Thessaloniki

Saint Demetrius was born around the year 270 in Thessaloniki, then a part of the Roman Empire. We believe his father the proconsul of the Thessalonica district, a position Saint Demetrius took over when his father passed. When he became proconsul, he began to spread the Christian faith, imploring the locals to stop their worship of idols and instead turn their lives to Jesus Christ.

Saint Demtrius was proconsul during a time period known as the Diocletian persecutions - a time when the Roman Empire began to actively persecute the Christian church and it's followers. Under Diocletian the persecution was nightmarish - Christians were arrested, tortured, lawsuits brought against them were immediately granted without defense, and they could not perform religious ceremonies. Under Emperor Galerius (the next emperor) things only worsened. Notoriously, Emperor Galerius was known for public executions of Christians including circus games, crucifixions and burning them alive daily.

Saint Demetrius was soon arrested and told to leave the Christian faith while in jail. While in the cells, he did the opposite - he began spreading the faith and converting the guards. Sometime around the year 306 on October 26th , the guards removed him from his cell and stabbed him multiple times with spears. A few years later, workmen digging a ditch discovered Saint Demetrius' remains and testified that they smelled of myrrh. His relics are now kept on Mount Athos.

He is celebrated in most Slavic areas, especially Bulgaria. According to tradition, the day of Saint Dimitar (Demetrius) is the day that the weather breaks and winter begins and the first snows fall. Also on his day, shepherds traditionally would bring their earnings home for the day and large fairs and festivals are organized. Though most families celebrate, one tradition holds that anyone with the same name organizes and hosts the party.

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