I hope to make an additional post on the life of St. Demetrios the Great-martyr, but I wanted to make another post to discuss the incredible and moving veneration that Orthodox Christians all over the world, but especially in the city of his martyrdom and his patronage, Thessaloniki, Greece, show towards such a great Saint of our Church. (see the following post for the life of St. Demetrios: http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/2008/10/life-of-st-demetrios-myrrh-flowing.html; and for more miracles of St. Demetrios see: http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/2009/10/miracles-of-st-demetrios-myrrh-streamer.html)
St. Demetrios' Holiness according to St. Gregory Palamas
St. Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessaloniki was well aquainted with the great grace and holiness of St. Demetrios. In the following quote, Bishop Ierotheos Vlachos discusses St. Gregory Palamas' view of St. Demetrios:
"The facts that the monastic life is the evangelic life and that a monk is one who lives evangelically can also be seen in St. Gregory Palamas's homily on St. Demetrios of Thessaloniki, in which St. Demetrios is presented as a monk. Naturally in the time of St. Demetrios there was no monasticism as we know it today, but every Christian who kept the will of God was essentially a monk.
In his homily on St. Demetrios the divine Gregory puts in relief the chastity of his body and soul. He lived in general chastity even though he was the highest officer in the Roman army.
According to St. Gregory Palamas, St. Demetrios was graced with splendid prophetic power and was counted worthy of "the apostolic and teaching diaconate and a high position". He was full of virtues and was not inferior to the saints in asceticism "and in their radiance of life". But he was behind some, was like others; superior to some and surpassing others. He possessed many gifts.
The warfare which St. Demetrios waged within his heart was comparable to the warfare of the great ascetics. He kept his nous pure of any unseemly thought, protecting the immaculate Grace of holy Baptism, had a will that harmonised with God's law "like a book of God and a tablet and plaque engraved by God or a writing tablet written by the finger of God and placed before all for the common use". In this way St. Demetrios was chaste in both body and soul. He had his citizenship in heaven and walked on an equal footing with the angels, having a body as well. So St. Demetrios seems to have had an angelic life and citizenship.
The patron saint of Thessaloniki was "both a teacher and an apostle, wise and chaste and holy, and we may say very beautiful and spotless, and made radiant by nature, zeal and grace".
Comparing St. Demetrios with Job of the Old Testament, St. Gregory says that while Job was blameless, righteous and pious, just as Demetrios was, Job was not praised by God for chastity, something which St. Demetrios had. His chastity showed St. Demetrios to be higher than nature and on a par with the angels."
(Metropolitan Ierotheos Vlachos, St. Gregory Palamas as a Hagiorite, taken from: http://www.pelagia.org/htm/b16.en.saint_gregory_palamas_as_a_hagiorite.05.htm; see: On the Saints: Sermons by Saint Gregory Palamas for the full text of St. Gregory's homily on St. Demetrios, http://thaborian.com/gpal.html)
St. Demetrios the Myrrh-Streamer
St. Demetrios bears the title "Myrovletes" (or "Myrrh-streamer") in commemoration of the miraculous spring of myrrh from his holy relics which continues to flow to this day. The following is a brief historical account:
Every day a perfumed oil flows, which heals those who accept it with faith, particularly on the feast of St Demetrius. That day, in fact, it flows more copiously than others, even from the walls and columns of the church. The people in great numbers wipe it from the walls and put this oil in flasks. This miracle will endure until the end of time. Virtuous priests who have seen this have spoken of it and given witness to it."
The faithful of Thessaloniki show great honor to their patron and protector, St. Demetrios. For almost a month before his feast, they hold the Demetria festival of services, lectures, and concerts in his memory. The week before his feast day, they hold multiple services every day as a sort of "Passion Week" to commemorate the days leading up to his martyrdom, including vigils every night. For more on the so-called "Holy Week of St. Demetrios", see: http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/2011/10/holy-week-services-of-st-demetrios.html.
Even after the Great Vespers and Orthros and Divine Liturgy on his feast day, these services, Paraklesis services and vigils continue for days after his feast. Thousands of the faithful take part to honor this great Saint and seek his help. (See the following link for a beautiful video of the church of St. Demetrios, his relics, and the remnants of the Roman bathhouse below the church where St. Demetrios was martyred: http://apantaortodoxias.blogspot.com/2009/10/blog-post_04.html)
The whole world has found you as a mighty champion in dangers, O victor, who rout the nations. Therefore as you destroyed the pride of Lyaios in the stadium by giving Nestor courage, holy great Martyr Demetrios, implore Christ God to grant us his great mercy.
(Ποίημα Ἁγίου Συμεών, Ἀρχιεπισκόπου Θεσσαλονίκης - Σε μορφή διαλόγου)
(written by St. Symeon Archbishop of Thessaloniki – in the form of a dialogue)
(amateur translation from the above Greek)