My beloved brothers and sisters In Christ Our Only True Lord, God, and Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
On the 17th of August, Our Holy Orthodox Church Commemorates
New-Hieromartyr DEMETRIOS the New of Samarina in Epirus,
DEMETRIOS, the Venerable priest, who excelled and gained the valorous prize of a newly-appeared Martyr of Christ, was born at the end of the eighteenth century. He hailed from a village of Epirus, Greece, named Samarina. Samarina is a village in the Grevena prefecture of the Macedonia West region of Greece. Demetrios was resolved to leave this village of economic growth and culture, because of his love for the Monastic life. He forsook all the pleasures and delights of the world, taking up the yoke of the Lord. He went forth and entered a monastery of the region and became a monk. The product of his toils in the spiritual life and of each and every divine ascent guided and led both body and soul to become an elect vessel of enlightenment and a receptacle of Divine grace. Moved by the Divine Spirit and filled full with Apostolic zeal, he emerged from his monastery. He went about here and there, passing through the cities and villages of Thessaly, (Thessaly is a region of Northern Greece south of Macedonia, lying between upland Epirus and Aegean Sea.) preaching the word of the Faith. He taught the faithful to have patience and perseverance in every affliction and tribulation. He taught them in this manner during that era of bondage and unintermittent bitter trials. Recent circumstances created a multitude of perils that encompassed the Orthodox Christians, by reason of an insurrection preached by the then Papa Efthymios Vlahava, who, from 1807 until 1809, was a leader of the liberation of the Greeks against the God-permitted rule of the Christ-hating Hagarenes.
The blessed Demetrios distinguished himself in labors for the Gospel. He was teaching the Orthodox the great mystery of piety and how they ought to be conducting themselves in the house of God, which is the Church of the Living God–pillar and stay of the Truth. He was reported and apprehended by the Hagarenes or Ottoman Turks and Moslims. He was then dragged before the tyrant Ali Pasha (1741-1822) of Tepelene or of Ioannina (Yiannina), an Albanian pasha of the Western part of Rumelia, the Ottoman Empire’s European territory. It was before him that Father Demetrios confessed bravely his Christian calling. He declared the nature of his Apostolic rounds. He explained the purpose of his preaching, which was to uphold the piety of the Orthodox Christian faithful, to comfort them in their tribulations, and to avoid the heterodox–but to obey the laws of the authorities.
Ali Pasha asked Father Demetrios, “By announcing the Kingdom of Christ, thou art encouraging the Christians to hope in the fall of the sultan.” Father Demetrios answered, “The Savior told us that His Kingdom is NOT of this world. But if we endure, we shall also reign with Him. Now I believe that which Christ taught. I also believe that He shall reign to the ages of the ages, and that His Kingdom shall not end.” Filled with suspicions and dissatisfied with the responses of the priest, he ordered the severest tortures to commence. Father Demetrios was spread out on the floor. After they beat the face of Father Demetrios, Ali Pasha directed that pointed reeds were to be forced under the fingernails and toenails of the Orthodox priest. Concurrently, other executioners were piercing and borin through his arms with nails. The Venerable Martyr remained steadfast regarding only the words of the Lord, to Whom he directed his mental gaze: “The one who endureth to the end, this one shall be saved” (Matthew 10:22).
The tyrant, still wanting for the priest to give answer–or rather the names of so called fellow conspirators an uncovering of a plot that he suspected against the authorities. Ali Pasha ordered that an iron ring, like a chain headband, was to be set upon the brow of the priest monk. In successive intervals, the chain was being tightened each time Father Demetrios was questioned regarding accomplices and gave no response. Father Demetrios kept silent, while the took chain was tightened to the next link. Following these heavy scenes, the gloriously triumphant contestant was consigned to a dark and dismal prison cell. In the morning of the following day, he was removed from his prison cell. He was suspended upside down, hanging from his feet. Underneath him, that is, just below his head, the Muslims were stoking a fire fueled with resinous pine wood. As the blood rushed to the martyr’s head and acrid smoke inhalation choked him, the flames burned his scalp. The torturers, fearing that the prisoner might expire too soon, quickly cut him down in order to allay the pangs and that he might catch his breath. There followed many more horrific tortures of the Saint and holy Martyr.
But all of these harsh punishments proved inadequate. The invincible confessor of the Faith was now to be submitted to the final martyrdom. The tyrant ordered that the Christian was to be placed within a wall. Only his head would be free. He was to remain immured within the wall until he surrendered his soul. Hence, while he was walled up, being allowed only to breathe, they waited until death overtook Father Demetrios. Both before and during his martyrdom, he succeeded in bolstering the distraught flock that lived during the Ottoman enslavement. His repose took place in these latter gloomy years of servitude, that is, 1808. The Venerable and Righteous Martyr Demetrios the New fought the good fight of piety and finished in triumph, to the glory of the Most Glorious Name of the Savior Christ.
The Venerable and Righteous Martyr was immediately honored as a Saint. He was glorified as a Wonder-worker, performing a host of miracles for those invoking his name with faith. May Saint Demetriios, who is now rejoicing with the Angelic Choirs and the Righteous and the Martyrs, intercede unceasingly for us who celebrate his sacred memory! Amen.
“Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Divine and Glorious Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God