Hat tip to Christopher Haas:
The Martyrdom of St. Demetrius of Thessaloniki
When the emperor Maximianus (probably Galerius Maximianus, emperor 293-311) was spending time in the city of the Thessalonians, being a superstitious man, he persecuted those who heeded just religion and killed them. Among these was blessed Demetrius, he who had both performed good works since his youth and had taught others, who displayed himself and was without fear. For he taught how divine Wisdom had descended to the earth from heaven in order to bring back to life by means of his own blood man who had died because of sin. When he was preaching these and other things, some imperial servants who had been entrusted with the capture of Christians, seized saint Demetrius and presented him to the emperor Maximianus.
It happened that the emperor had gone to the city's stadium on account of those who had been about to join together in single combat. A circular enclosure was being readied there by means of some fencing where he was about to watch those who fought each other face-to-face in turn in the manner of the theatre because it was a delight to him to witness the spilling of human blood. Nevertheless, not without care and concern did he regard that which was perceived as delightful to him. For he burned with support for a certain single-combatsman, Lyaeus by name, who, abusing the strength and size of his body, had already vanquished many and possessed a knowledge of killing gained through theory and practice. Because all were afraid of this man and there seemed to be no-one to withstand him, Maximianus held him in high regard, prized him, and used watch him with great pleasure. He praised and admired him, and gloried in the arrogance of the man as if concerning something important. When he had arrived near the stadium, those who had seized blessed Demetrius, brought him forward to him. Hearing that he was a Christian, the emperor, because he was entirely focused on the spectacle that was at hand, ordered blessed Demetrius to be held there next to the stadium and to be kept under guard in the public bath. So the emperor took his seat, and when Lyaeus had been brought in, he asked who was willing to enter into single-combat with him, offering and promising gifts.
And a certain young man by the name of Nestor leaped forth from the higher seats, and, desiring single-combat, took his stand opposite Lyaeus, so that, stupefied, Maximianus called Nestor, he who had leaped forth for this reason, to himself, and advised him, saying, "I realize that lack of money has caused you to be raised to such a state of fantasy so that you either win and acquire sudden wealth or, cheated by your desire, rid yourself of your poverty along with your life. But because of my pity for the youth with which you are adorned, I will even give to you worthy and fitting gifts on account of your unique daring. So come on, take the gifts too along with your life. Do not hurl yourself against Lyaeus, since he has conquered many more powerful than you. When Nestor heard these things, he neither accepted the emperor's advice nor feared concerning Lyaeus' strength. He answered the emperor, "I have not come to this contest for gain, as you have asserted, but in order to prove myself better than Lyaeus. So then both the emperor and those who were about him, supporters of Lyaeus, rose in anger at Nestor's words, not tolerating his boastfulness. The emperor reassured Lyaeus and restored his confidence. He, for his part, hastened to show himself worthy of the imperial judgment. And when battle had been joined, Lyaeus received a mortal blow, immediately fell dead, and caused the emperor extreme confusion. For this reason, without paying Nestor any of the monies that had been agreed and promised, he then leaped forth from his seat and returned in sadness to the palace.
When some mentioned about Demetrius to him, roused to anger, he ordered him immediately to be pierced with lances in the very place where he was being detained. In this way blessed Demetrius completed the martyrdom of a good confession. His body was counted as little by his killers, but some religious men came secretly by night and rescued it from the dirt where it had been thrown, and having gathered as much earth as they were able, they carefully buried it so that it would not receive injury from any fierce and cruel animals. After these events, no-one cared to move the saint's body, but it remained beneath its marker. Furthermore, to say little, no few miracles and healings were worked in the same place for those who called upon him with faith. When the martyr's merit had presently been made common knowledge, Leontius, assuredly beloved of God, a man who adorned the seat of the prefecture of Illyricum, cleaned the building which contained the most holy body of the martyr, and freed it from all harm, since it was very humble, concealed on all sides, and restricted by the porticoes of the public bath and the stadium. He enlarged it by means of further lots of land, and erected there an oratory in honor of the holy martyr Demetrius for the praise of Our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom the Father and the Holy Spirit share glory, honor and power through ages of ages.
Anastasius Bibliothecarius, The Passio of St. Demetrius
Great Martyr Demetrius, commemorated 26 October
icon and troparion at: http://www.comeandseeicons.com/d/ynk03.htm
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Hat tip to Christopher Haas: