St. Demetrius of Thessaloniki (Άγιος Δημήτριος της Θεσσαλονίκης in Greek) was a Christian martyr said to have lived in the 4th century. He is also referred to as "the Megalomartyr" by the Greeks. Whether there was in fact a historical Demetrios martyred for his faith in Thessaloniki is questioned by most modern scholars; this article relates the conventional hagiography.
Demetrius was a deacon in Thessaloniki. Early legends about Demetrius credit him with a military career in the Roman army, so he is also sometimes called a military martyr. He was run through with spears probably in 306 in Thessaloniki, during the Christian persecutions of emperor Maximian.
He was extremely popular in the Middle Ages, and along with St. George, he was the patron of the Crusades.
St. Demetrius' relics are kept in Thessaloniki, Greece, a city of which he is the patron saint. His memory is celebrated on the 26 October. He is also revered by the Serbian Orthodox Church as Mitar, having a feast of Mitrovdan on November 8th.
St. Demetrius is also commonly spelled as St. Dimitrios by Greek migrants in Australia and the United States, and commenly depicted in icons with the White Tower of Thessaloniki in the background. The tower depicted in the icons was build in the 16th century, centuries after his life, as the architecture of the older tower in the exact site is unknown.
St. Demetrius is most commonly depicted in icons, mosaics and frescos wearing the armour of a Roman soldier, although in the earliest images of the saint he is simply portrayed in robes. After the fall of Byzantium St. Demetrius began to be associated with St. George and together with him was portrayed mounted upon a horse, always a red horse for St. Demetrius and a white one for St. George. Equestrian images of the saint can be dated by this depiction.
Relics of St. Demetrius at the Aghios Demetrios Basilica in Thessaloniki. (Source)
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