September 13, 2016

Holy Martyrs Demetrios, his wife Evanthia, and their son Demetrian

Sts. Demetrios, Evanthia and Demetrian (Feast Day - September 11)


Pressed tight the three nobly hungered for bread,
Pleading that the stones turn to bread.

After Saint Cornelius the Centurion (Sept. 13) was baptized by the Apostle Peter, he retired from the world and went preaching the Gospel together with the Apostle Peter, who made him a bishop. When the Apostle Peter, together with his helpers Timothy and Cornelius, was in the city of Ephesus, he learned of a particularly vigorous idol-worship in the city of Skepsis, in the region of Troas. Lots were drawn to see who would go there, and Cornelius was chosen.

In the city lived a ruler by the name of Demetrios, learned in the ancient Greek philosophy, hating Christianity and venerating the pagan gods, in particular Apollo and Zeus. Learning about the arrival of Cornelius in the city, he immediately summoned him and asked him the reason for his coming. Cornelius answered that he came to free him from the darkness of ignorance and lead him to knowledge of the True Light.

Demetrios, not comprehending the meaning of what was said, became angry and demanded that he answer each of his questions. When Cornelius explained that he served the Lord and that the reason for his coming was to announce the Truth, the prince became enraged and demanded that Cornelius offer sacrifice to the idols.

The Saint asked to be shown the gods. When he entered the pagan temple, Cornelius turned towards the east and uttered a prayer to the Lord. There was an earthquake, and the temple of Zeus and the idols situated in it were destroyed. All the populace, seeing what had happened, were terrified.

Demetrios was even more vexed and began to take counsel together with those approaching him, about how to destroy Cornelius. They bound the Saint and took him to prison for the night. At this point, one of his servants informed Demetrios that his wife Evanthia and child Demetrian had perished beneath the rubble of the destroyed temple.

After a certain while, one of the pagan priests, by the name of Barbates, reported that he heard the voice of the wife and son somewhere in the ruins and that they were calling for Cornelius. The pagan priest asked that the imprisoned one be released, in gratitude for the miracle worked by Cornelius, and the wife and son of the Demetrios remained alive.

The joyful Demetrios hastened to the prison in the company of those about him, and seeing that the bonds of Cornelius were loosened by an Angel and hearing him praising God, he fell on his knees and declared that he believed in Christ and asked them to bring his wife and son out of the ruins of the temple. Cornelius went to the destroyed temple, and through prayer the suffering were freed.

After this the ruler Demetrios, and all his relatives and comrades accepted holy Baptism. Cornelius lived for a long time in this city, converted all the pagan inhabitants to Christ, and made Eunomios a presbyter in service to the Lord. Cornelius died in old age and was buried not far from the pagan temple he destroyed.*


* The Synaxarion of Constantinople for September 11th commemorates Demetrios, Evanthia and Demetrian as dying from starvation, and the iambic verses reflect this as well, but no other detail is given. What we know of them comes from the Synaxarion of Saint Cornelius on September 13th, but we are not informed of their death. Perhaps then the three indeed died as martyrs by starvation.