Patron Saint of the Central Youth Commitee
The life of Saint Nestor
Saint Demetrius suffered in Thessalonica during the reign of Galerius Maximian (C.306). He belonged to one of the most distinguished families of the province of Macedonia and was widely admired not only because of his noble ancestry and grace of bearing but also for virtue, wisdom and goodness of heart surpassing that of his elders.
The military expertise of Saint Demetrius led Galerius, as Caesar of the Eastern Empire, to appoint him commander of the Roman forces of Thessaly and Proconsul for Hellas. But for all this, Demetrius remained ever aware of the underlying realities of life. Since faith in Christ had touched his heart, all the glory of this world meant nothing to him, and there was nothing he preferred to teaching and preaching the word of God.
Despite the persecution directed against Christians by the Emperor, Saint Demetrius brought a large number of pagans to the faith. His words convinced them because they saw in righteousness, peace and brotherly love that marked his life an illustration of truth of which he spoke.
The Emperor Maximian had just won a series of brilliant victories over the Scythians and was on his way back to Rome when he halted at Thessalonica to receive the acclamations of the populace and to offer sacrifices in thanksgiving to the idols. A number of pagans, envious of the success of the Saint, took advantage of the Emperor's presence in the city to denounce Demetrius as a Christian. Maximian's astonishment gave way to violent indignation when he gathered that Demetrius' fellowship with the disciples of Christ extended to making use of his official position to spread the faith. Demetrius was summoned and confined in an insalubrious cell, located in the basement of nearby baths.
When Demetrius entered the cell a scorpion approached his foot, poised to give a fatal sting. The Saint simply made the sign of the Cross and it vanished. Then he was left alone in the humid, foul-smelling atmosphere, but he took no account of it since he was full of joy at the thought of soon sharing completely in the life-giving Passion of the Lord. He was only sorry at having to wait for the end of the celebration of the Emperor's triumph before he could fulfil his martyrdom.
As was usual on those occasions, Maximian arranged for games and gladiatorial combats to take place in the amphitheatre of the city. He had brought with him a man of gigantic stature and Herculean strength called Lyaios, a Vandal by origin. Such was this man's strength and skill in single combat that no one could withstand him.
There was in the city a young Christian called Nestor, who observing the empty pride of the Emperor in the victories of his champion, made up his mind to show him that real power belongs to Christ alone. He ran to the baths where Demetrius was imprisoned and asked for the protection of his prayer in going to confront the giant. The Martyr made the sign of the Cross on the brow and heart of the boy, and sent him like David before Goliath. He reached the amphitheatre just as the heralds were crying out on all sides for any who would stand against Lyaios. Advancing towards the Emperor, Nestor threw his tunic to the ground and shouted, 'God of Demetrius, help me!' In the first encounter, at the very moment the giant rushed upon him, Nestor slipped aside and stabbed him to the heart with his dagger. There was uproar and amazement at the marvel, and people asked themselves how a mere child, relying neither on strength nor weapons, could so suddenly have brought down the hitherto invincible barbarian. The fact is that Nestor placed his entire hope in the Lord, 'the Master of the contest', He who delivers their enemies into the hands of the faithful.
Nestor fell to his knees saying, "Servant of God Demetrius, I am willing to contest Lyaios in a dual, for this pray for me calling upon the name of Christ.
Rather than yield to this sign of the sovereign power of God, the Emperor flew into a rage and ordered the immediate arrest of Nestor and his beheading outside the city. He had heard Nestor calling upon the God of Demetrius and, supposing the Saint had used some kind of witchcraft, Maximian ordered his soldiers to go and thrust Demetrius through with their lances, without trial, in the depths of his prison cell.
There were some Christians, including Demetrius' servant Lupus, present at his martyrdom, and when the soldiers had gone, they reverently buried the Saint's body. Lupus kept the bloodstained tunic of the Martyr and, taking the royal ring from his finger,placed it on his own. By means of these two trophies, Lupus wrought many miracles and healings; but when Maximian got yo hear of them, he immediately sent soldiers to behead the faithful servant.
It was God's will that the grace with which He filled Saint Demetrius should remain active even after his death. This is why He caused to flow from his body a myron with a delightful scent, which had the property of healing all who took it as an unction, with faith in the intercession of the Saint. Time and again, during sixteen hundred years, Saint Demetrius has given proof of his benevolent care for the city of Thessalonica and its inhabitants. He has defended them from the attacks of barbarians, fighting for them on the ramparts; he has preserved them from plague and famine, healed the sick and comforted the afflicted. So many are his miracles that attempting to number them all would be as senseless as trying to count the grains of sand on the sea shore.
Saint Nestor's feastday is celebrated in the Orthodox Church on the 27th October.
(From the Synaxarion: The Lives of the Saints of the Orthodox
Church, Volume 1, Holy Convent of the Annunciation of our Lady Ormylia