Lives of the Saints
Introduction
Anastasius the Librarian ("Bibliothecarius") was the leading Greek scholar in the West
during the 9th-century and served Popes Adrian II (867-72) and John VIII (872-82) as
their librarian. Hence his nickname. He attended the final session of the 8th
Ecumenical Council at Constantinople in 870 and translated its proceedings into Latin
in 871. He also translated the proceedings of the 7th Ecumenical Council, which had
been held at Nicaea in 787, into Latin in 871. He sent his translation of the Greek acts
of St. Demetrius, together with his translation of a collection of miracles of St. see the
entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia (1913 edition). The exact recension of the Greek
acts of St. Demetrius which he used for his translation has been lost, but it is clear
that he did not merely translate his material. He severely abbreviated it also. The
following translation is based on the text in PL 129, cols. 715-26.
Text [col. 715]
Introductory Letter
Anastasius the humble to the most pious and ever august lord, the emperor Charles,
[who holds his] crown and kingdom with Christ.
I have recently translated the passion and miracles of the blessed martyr Demetrius of
Thessalonica from Greek into Latin at the encouragement of [my] brothers, especially
of that most learned man John the Deacon, who is very well known [to you] because of
the orthodoxy of your faith and the splendour of your knowledge. This aforementioned
John had a chapel of wondrous antiquity and beauty dedicated to this martyr in his
own house even, yet he did not know what sort of martyr this man was. So I, since I
am familiar with Thessalonica where his precious body lies buried and redolent and
shines forth in splendid miracles, explained [the story] to him in sequence. But
because I do not want your imperiousness to be robbed of the knowledge of such a
great athlete [of Christ], I have taken care, and the opportunity, to send this very
[account] to you also to the end that, with the intercession of the saints and friends of
God and the prayer of this man also, your greatness may be able to obtain grace
before God and merit the enjoyment of eternal glory. May the King of Kings and Lord of
Lords protect your kingliness with his right hand, and convey [you] from the the
temporal to the eternal realm.
The Passion
When the emperor Maximianus was spending time in the city of the Thessalonians,
being a superstitious man he persecuted those who heeded just religion and killed
them. Among these was blessed Demetrius, he who had both performed good works
since his youth and had taught others, who displayed himself and was without fear.
For he taught how divine Wisdom had descended to the earth from heaven in order to
bring back to life by means of his own blood man who had died because of sin. When
he was preaching these and other things, some imperial servants who had been
entrusted with the capture of Christians, seized saint Demetrius and presented him to
the emperor Maximianus. It happened that the emperor had gone to the city's stadium
on account of those who had been about to join together in single combat. A circular
enclosure was being readied there by means of some fencing where he was about to
watch [col. 716] those who fought each other face-to-face in turn in the manner of the
theatre because it was a delight to him to witness the spilling of human blood.
Nevertheless, not without care and concern did he regard that which was perceived as
delightful to him. For he burned with support for a certain single-combatsman, Lyaeus
by name, who, abusing the strength and size of his body, had already vanquished
many and possessed a knowledge of killing gained through theory and practice.
Because all were afraid of this man and there seemed to be no-one to withstand him,
Maximianus held him in high regard, prized him, and used watch him with great
pleasure. He praised and admired him, and gloried in the arrogance of the man as if
concerning something important. When he had arrived near the stadium, those who
had seized blessed Demetrius, brought him forward to him. Hearing that he was a
Christian, the emperor, because he was entirely focussed on the spectacle that was at
hand, ordered blessed Demetrius to be held there next to the stadium and to be kept
under guard in the public bath. So the emperor took his seat, and when Lyaeus had
been brought in, he asked who was willing to enter into single-combat with him,
offering and promising gifts. And a certain young man by the name of Nestor leaped
forth from the higher seats, and, desiring single-combat, took his stand opposite
Lyaeus, so that, stupefied, Maximianus called Nestor, he who had leaped forth for this
reason, to himself, and advised him, saying, "I realise that lack of money has caused
you to be raised to such a state of fantasy so that you either win and acquire sudden
wealth or, cheated by your desire, rid yourself of your poverty along with your life. But
because of my pity for the youth with which you are adorned, I will even give to you
worthy and fitting gifts on account of your unique daring. So come on, take the gifts
too along with your life. Do not hurl yourself against Lyaeus, since he has conquered
many more powerful than you. When Nestor heard these things, he neither accepted
the emperor's advice nor feared concerning Lyaeus' strength. He answered the
emperor, "I have not come to this contest for gain, as you have asserted, but in order
to prove myself better than Lyaeus. So then [col. 717] both the emperor and those
who were about him, supporters of Lyaeus, rose in anger at Nestor's words, not
tolerating his boastfulness. The emperor reassured Lyaeus and restored his confidence.
He, for his part, hastened to show himself worthy of the imperial judgement. And when
battle had been joined, Lyaeus received a mortal blow, immediately fell dead, and
caused the emperor extreme confusion. For this reason, without paying Nestor any of
the monies that had been agreed and promised, he then leaped forth from his seat and
returned in sadness to the palace. When some mentioned about Demetrius to him,
roused to anger, he ordered him immediately to be pierced with lances in the very
place where he was being detained. In this way blessed Demetrius completed the
martyrdom of a good confession. His body was counted as little by his killers, but
some religious men came secretly by night and rescued it from the dirt where it had
been thrown, and having gathered as much earth as they were able, they carefully
buried it so that it would not receive injury from any fierce and cruel animals. After
these events, no-one cared to move the saint's body, but it remained beneath its
marker. Furthermore, to say little, no few miracles and healings were worked in the
same place for those who called upon him with faith. When the martyr's merit had
presently been made common knowledge, Leontius, assuredly beloved of God, a man
who adorned the seat of the prefecture of Illyricum, cleaned the building which
contained the most holy body of the martyr, and freed it from all harm, since it was
very humble, concealed on all sides, and restricted by the porticoes of the public bath
and the stadium. He enlarged it by means of further lots of land, and erected there an
oratory in honour of the holy martyr Demetrius for the praise of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
with Whom the Father and the Holy Spirit share glory, honour and power through ages
of ages.
Miracle 1
A certain Marianus, one of the senators, was ordered by the emperors to rule the tribes
who were in Illyricum in the manner of the prefects. He, when he came to
Thessalonica, managed the government of the prefecture in a pious fashion, and was
pleasing to both God and man. Then the devil, envying his wealth, sought him out to
test him, just like Job. And first of all he began to test him by means of the seven
vices. But the other, sustained by the grace of God, overcame all his machinations.
And when the devil did not succeed in this way, he deprived that man of all his worldly
wealth; and he was not able to conquer him in this way either, since there was help
from above with him. Finally, therefore, the devil, with the permission of God, struck
him down with such a serious illness that he had no power over any of his limbs,
except his tongue alone, concerning which he used constantly praise God. And when he
had suffered this illness with patience for a long time, the devil came to the city in the
guise of a man, carrying a certain document in his hands, and he said to one of his
servants, "If your lord will carry this about himself, he will be freed from his illness."
The latter entered before his lord and said to him, "So listen to me, and you will be
cured. There is an unknown man in the city with a certain document who says that if
you are willing to carry it about yourself, [col. 718] you will be freed from your illness."
But he said, "What is written on it ?" "I do not know", the servant says, "but he [the
stranger] says that it is the names of the gods and the angels." Marianus said, "God,
without whose nod nothing happens, can restore me to health without a written
document; let him have what is his; let God's will be done concerning me." When he
had said these things, he was quickly seized by sleep because of his pain and sorrow.
When he had fallen asleep, blessed Demetrius appeared to him, saying, "Rise and
order your servants to carry you to the shrine of Demetrius; for there, with the help of
God, you will receive a cure." And when he woke up and asked those standing around
for the shrine of the martyr Demetrius, someone said, "There is a very small shrine
near the stadium where they say that Demetrius lies, he who was killed by means of
lances a long time ago at the order of the emperor Maximianus." Then he said, "Bring
me there, since I have been told in a dream that I can receive a cure there." Then his
servants carried their lord where they had been ordered; and he ordered them to place
him only on the floor. And when he was lying [there], he was seized by sudden sleep;
and behold, blessed Demetrius appeared to him again, saying, "You can be cured by
me, but I am afraid lest after your healing you may perhaps entangle yourself in the
cures of this world." But Marianus [said], "You know, lord, that I have never done this,
and that I do not wish to do this [now]." And he [replied], "Christ, who raises up those
cast down, cures you." And waking up, Marianus began to report his vision. And when
he had got to the place where the martyr said, "Christ, who raises up those cast down,
cures you," he stood up cured and, together with all those present there, gave thanks
to God who lives and reigns through ages of ages. Amen.
Miracle 2
Similarly, there was a certain prefect of the city of Thessalonica who suffered a
discharge of blood and, just like the woman who was cured by touching the fringe of
the Lord's clothing, had spent almost all his income on doctors, and had been able to
be cured by no-one. So finally, inspired by divine mercy, he said to his servants one
day, "Carry me to the shrine of the protector of our city." But replying with fear, they
said to him, "To the shrine of which protector do you order us to lead you ?" He said to
them, "[To the shrine] of the chief [protector]." They said, "Of which chief [protector] ?
Tell us his name, lord." He looked at them and said, "Alas ! Do I recognise him,
although I am lying [here] half-dead, while you are ignorant of him, although you are
healthy ? Do you not know that this city has many protectors, but one surpasses them
all, he who always fights keenly on her behalf, whom not only the city alone has
merited to have as its inassailable wall, but the whole region also ? So bring me to his
shrine, for he will either take pity on me as I visit, or will certainly raise up my soul
when I have died there and, interceding for me at the coming presence of Christ's
fearful seat-of-judgement, will save me from eternal punishment." When he had said
these things, they realized that he was talking about the saint Demetrius who often
bestows cures upon the sick; and they quickly raised him up and carried him there.
What language, dearest brothers, can honour this martyr with worthy praises, he who
has achieved such great power that he can restore to health in one moment he whom
many different doctors had been unable to cure ? For as soon as [the prefect] entered
the doors of the church, he merited a cure not only of his body, [col. 719] but also of
his soul, through the power of Our Lord Jesus Christ who lives and reigns through ages
of ages. Amen.
Miracle 3
We have heard a friend of the truth, an important priest without a doubt, report things
about the martyr Demetrius which we will try to explain in the following [passages]. It
happened, he said, that the magnificent, solid-silver ciborium which had stood in his
holy temple was so burned one night that it totally melted. So the most holy bishop
tried to recreate the aforementioned ciborium, but he did not recover a full pound of
the silver which had melted away for the completion of such a great task. He planned
to himself to melt down the silver throne which was in the same venerable temple, and
to effect the task in that way. And when he had decided this to himself, and no-one
else knew his plan, the martyr of Christ Demetrius appeared in his dreams to a certain
priest, a man of excellent lifestyle, Demetrius by name, saying, "Go, tell the bishop of
the city: "Do not presume to destroy the throne of my house." When the priest had
told this to the bishop, his superior was indeed amazed first of all that his
inner-thoughts had been made public; he then regarded the steward of the temple of
the venerable martyr with some suspicion, thinking that he had arranged this. And the
bishop said to him, "You have never heard this from me, brother." After many days,
when he had examined the arguments again and had found no other plan by which the
work on the ciborium might be completed, he confirmed himself in his first plan to
make the ciborium from the throne. When he had ordered a silversmith to be called in
order to instruct him to destroy the throne, someone reported to him, saying, "The
priest Demetrius asks to approach to your holiness." When he had entered, [the priest]
said to him, "The martyr Demetrius who appeared to me, a sinner, earlier, has
appeared to me again in a vision with a somewhat sad appearance, and has ordered
me to report these words to your holiness: "For the sake of charity, do not grieve me
by the destruction of my throne." But [the bishop] was indignant at the priest when he
heard this, since he thought that he was making these things up. He dismissed him
from him more severely, and made his intention clear, saying, "You have abundant
advice to give when there is less than a pound of silver ! Do not philosophize about
the problems of others and pass rash judgement." Then the priest went away confused
since the saint had not yet told him what ought to be done, but only, "Do not destroy
my throne." But that very night saint Demetrius appeared to the priest Demetrius, and
said to him, "Go, tell the archbishop: "Do not worry about my ciborium, since I will
restore it myself." The priest fulfilled the martyr's commands, and reported this to his
superior. When his superior heard this, he praised God and the holy martyr Demetrius.
While they were still talking to each other about these things, behold the doorkeeper
came, saying, "Holy superior, the very wealthy Mennas stands at your door wanting to
talk to you." He said to him, "Let him come in." The aforementioned Mennas entered
and gave him 75 pounds of silver for the assistance of the ciborium. And then came
John, the darling of the poor without a doubt, who gave him 40 pounds of silver; and
the citizens came and made donations according as they were able in order for the
ciborium [col. 720] to be restored. In such a manner was this oft-mentioned work
rebuilt by the merits of the holy martyr with the help of Our Lord Jesus Christ who lives
and reigns, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, through ages of ages. Amen.
Miracle 4
But we do not believe that that which we heard from the most holy archbishop ought
to be omitted here. For he told us about a certain custodian of the temple of the
martyr Demetrius, Honesiphorus by name. "When one day I was going to to church of
the aforementioned martyr, I found the aforementioned custodian Honesiphorus lying
half-dead before the door of the holy martyr. And when, troubled, I wept at the illness
of my friend, Honesiphorus came to, saw me crying, and said, "Why are you sad on my
account, Lord Eusebius ? If you love me, do not be troubled, but order my tomb to be
readied, and toss me alive into it." Disturbed by this, I said to him in my sadness,
"What is the reason for this, brother ?" He replied, "Because I roused the holy martyr
to anger by my guilt. For the holy martyr appeared to me, a sinner, in my sleep, and
addressed me in a sweet voice, "Brother Honesiphorus, that which you do does not
please me. The salvation of a soul pleases me more than thousands of pounds of gold.
Do you not realise that the longer the candle which is offered up for sins blazes, the
longer it continues [to move] the saints to intercede for sinners ? So allow the greater
and smaller candles to blaze away, for it is altogether fitting for my house gleam with
candles." But wretched me when I awoke, I thought that I had seen a phantom, and
said to myself, "The saint does not appear to sinners." Twice, indeed, and three times
did I receive the same warnings in my dreams, and I wished to heed these things, and
desired to obverse [them] right up to the end [tonight]. On this very night, indeed, a
certain devout man came to the church bringing [some] big candles. After he had
prayed, he left the church. I decided to put his candles out, forgetting about the
martyr's decree. And when I began to move in order to exstinguish the candles, saint
Demetrius spoke to me, shouting out from his silver chamber in a loud and terrible
voice, "O greedy man !", and again, "O greedy man !" In great misery, indeed, and
extremely terrified, do I lie almost dead [here] where you found me, having been cast
down upon the ground and thrown out the doors of the monastery." Our father the
archbishop often told us these things. And so we ought to obey the commands given
to us by the saints with divine authority. May their kindness always protect us and
make us persevere in the instructions of Christ, Amen.
Miracle 5
It befell the inhabitants of the city of Thessalonica, evidently on account of their sins,
that a barbarian tribe plundered their land, burned their houses, laid waste their vines,
and drove their sons and daughters, horses and asses, sheep and cows, off into
captivity; they destroyed the corn and vine and oil in order to lay siege to the city. A
great famine followed [this] persecution throughout the whole of that region.
Therefore, the leading men of the city sent ambassasdors to the emperor in order that
he might free the city from siege by the barbarians and from the impending famine.
Meanwhile, the most glorious martyr Demetrius appeared, just as he is depicted in
paintings, on part of the island of Chios to a certain shipmaster by the name of
Stephen who was bringing a load of 200 [col. 721] modii of corn to the royal city, and
said to him, "Hear me, and sail swiftly to Thessalonica." He, although he had been
almost driven out of his mind as it were by the vision of the martyr and was scarcely
able to speak, said, "Lord, we have heard that it is about to be captured by the
barbarians." The saint replied, "Sail there, then, and tell the ships you meet that
Thessalonica has been saved by the mercy of God." When he had said these things,
the saint began to precede Stephanus, walking upon the sea. And Stephanus sailed to
Thessalonica and reported his vision of the martyr to whomsoever he met. And he
outstripped the ambassadors whom the citizens had sent to the emperor, together
with many merchants, and turned the city's grief into joy by telling how the martyr had
appeared to him. For terrified by divinely inspired fear, the enemy had left off their
siege shortly beforehand.
Miracle 6
You all know the famine which occurred a short while ago not only in this city of
Thessalonica, but almost everywhere else also, to such an extent that scarcity of not
only corn but of other things even seized the queen of cities herself also. Therefore,
since the city was being crushed by the affliction of such a great famine, that holy
marryr Demetrius, at the instruction of God, sent to them ships from many and
different regions filled with various produce, fresh and dry, and with every goodness of
human food, so that their desperation for these necessities was immediately brought
to an end, just as you have already heard. There was a certain man who had been
posted by his lord on the island of Chios in order to buy the corn which the ships were
bringing there. Now when he did not find any ships at all, and was seized with great
sorrow, he heard a voice saying to him, "Why are you troubled ? Know that Demetrius
paid [them] all [their] deposits earlier in order to send them to Thessalonica." Rising,
he went to the Church of Ss. Victor and Isidore wanting to learn from the countryfolk
who this Demetrius was. And when he asked this question, and could get no answer,
he assumed that some man by the name of Demetrius was going to be sent by the
prefect of the city of Thessalonica. He immediately sent a letter to his lord reporting
that the corn was being bought by Demetrius. [His] lord reported these same things to
the emperor who, when he had investigated the matter, discovered that no-one was
going to be sent by the prefect of Thessalonica, and that the [prefect] did not even
have a man by the name of Demetrius. Both the emperor and people realised that
none other than the martyr Demetrius had appeared to the aforementioned man. And
all who heard glorified God who had freed the city of Thessalonica from the dangers of
famine through the merits of his martyr.
Miracle 7
A certain prefect, whose name I need not mention since he remains in eternal
disgrace, was in charge of the cities in Illyricum. Swollen with pride, he summoned
those who were in charge of the city of Thessalonica and demanded that they perform
a certain public-work. They fell on their knees before him and declared that they were
unable to obey his commands. But he replied that they were lying. They then said to
him, "If you do not believe us, we will swear before the tomb of Saint Demetrius that
we cannot fulfil this [command]. But he burst forth in blasphemy against the martyr,
[col. 722] ridiculing his fellow citizens on account of the glorious martyr. They did not
tolerate the blasphemy, but closed their ears and left. After two days the prefect's
body was seized right from sole to head by such a serious illness that the doctors even
could not identify his condition; he remained in this condition for eight months. In the
eighth month, indeed, the wretched man reached such a state of misery that he lost
the power of his lower body with the result that he could see all his limbs, but could
not move them. Wondrous is God's power which works such things through his servants
!
Miracle 8
Eusebius, the archbishop of the city of Thessalonica, had a vision which I wish to
relate to you. Before the barbarian hordes began to attack the city of Thessalonica, the
aforementioned priest saw himself, in a dream, sitting in the city theatre along with a
great crowd of servants. And when he was wondering why he was seated in such a
lewd place, and was rising in his desire to leave, he saw a tragic actor standing on
that part of the stage where the stories are recited, and who said to him, "Wait, since
I must lament you and your daughter." He said to him, "Do not bother, since I do not
have a daughter, nor do I deserve lamentation." But the other said, "You do indeed
have a daughter, and a mother of many children; and you must lament her." Then the
chief realised that he was referring to the city as his daughter, and said, "I adjure you,
by God, to lament neither me nor her." And when he expressed his wish for a third
time to engage upon a lamentation, and was not allowed [to do so] by the bishop,
[the bishop] woke from his sleep and realised that the tragedy did not have a good
meaning. Indeed, after a few days had intervened, an innumerable horde of barbarians
surrounded Thessalonica and the bishop realised that the vision which he had seen
was true. When the barbarian tribe was devastating the district of Thessalonica, as we
have seen above, the inhabitants of the neighbouring disticts were stricken with
famine on account of their attacks. Finally, indeed, when almost as many inhabitants
had died as much as a result of famine as a result of fighting, the barbarians devised a
plan and suddenly attacked the city thinking that it was devoid of defenders, because
the situation was so, and had been desolated by famine. For we were few, and they
did indeed exceed the number of locusts. Then, when they had constructed
siege-ramparts, iron battering-rams, catapults, and great tortoise-like protective
covers, they covered eveything with the hides of oxen and camels in case they should
be destroyed by fire hurled down by the citizens. Moreover, they pressed so heavily
upon the citizens that no-one expected to survive alive. They besieged the city for a
long time, until they exhausted all their supplies, both for beast and man. Having
decided to attack the city altogether on the morning of the following day, they
surrounded it on every side with their machines of war. And now when the city was
about to be captured, they saw a crowd of armed men, like a swarm of wasps, exiting
it, whom a certain red-haired youth, most beautiful to behold, led, bearing the sign of
the cross in his hands. A white horse bore him. These charged forward and attacked
them. Terror-stricken, the [barbarians] left the city and sought the protection of flight.
However, a few, who were not able to flee, remained there half-dead. When these had
been seized by the citizens, they were asked by them [col. 723] why so great a
multitude was fleeing without any reason. The barbarians then [replied], "The crowd of
men whom you hid, together with their most brave commander, put our companies to
flight." But [the citizens] realised that the commander was the martyr Demetrius who
had put the enemy to flight together with an army of angels. Then when they had
collected the spoils of the enemy, they flocked together to the church of blessed
Demetrius and gave great thanks to God Who had freed the city from their enemies as
a result of his intercession. When several men were talking about the flight of the
barbarians, one of our brothers rose and said to them, "When one night this week,
after the morning prayers, I was standing in the temple of saint Demetrius the martyr
and praying before his holy shrine, a great tiredness came over me so that I was
neither entirely asleep nor was I wholly awake. And behold, two men appeared, terrible
to behold, and said to the guardian of the temple, "Where is the lord of this temple ?"
He replied, "He remains in that ciborium." They [said], "Go, tell him that we have been
sent to him." He went, and they followed him. And he called him, saying, "Saint
Demetrius, two soldiers are present who have been sent to you by their lord." And the
most holy martyr of Christ immediately appeared from within, and stood next to the
doors, and was also apparent to unworthy me. I fell on my face since I could not bear
to look upon his angelic countenance. For his appearance was not like his appearance
as depicted in the ancient paintings, but his face emitted rays of light just like the
sun. Although I was lying facedown, nevertheles I listened intently to what they were
saying to one another. And I heard that the men greeted the saint respectfully. He
said to them, "The grace of God be with you. Why have you been sent to me ?" The
men said, "Our lord sent us to your holiness to tell you this: "Hurry out and come to
me, since your city is being surrendered to its enemies." When I had heard this,
stricken by sorrow at his words, I rose upon my hands, and looking up a little, saw the
the face of the most pious martyr greatly saddened. And when a moment had passed,
I saw tears running down his cheeks from his eyes. Then the guardian of the temple
said to the two youths whom he had led in, "Why have you afflicted my lord ? If I had
known your intention beforehand, I would not have brought you to him." Then God's
saint said to his attendant, "These are my servants, and they have told me what they
had been ordered [to tell me]." The holy martyr then said in a loud voice, "O Lord
Jesus Christ, you said: "I do not desire the death of a sinner, but that he should be
converted and live", and again, "The angels of God rejoice at the repentance of one
sinner." And although you are the Lord of all the angels, you gave up your life for the
redemption of sinful men. You, Lord, entrusted that city and its citizens to me, that I
might live there forever with them and guard them. So how can I abandon them in such
great need ? or with what face will I observe the destruction of my fatherland ? What
life will I have when my citizens have been destroyed ? Just as I was with them in
spirit when they were prospering, so I will not desert them when they are in danger.
Whatever they deserve to suffer, I better deserve to suffer with them. But You,
Almighty and [col. 724] Merciful God, You who heard Jonah in the whale's stomach, and
the three boys in the blazing fire of a furnace, and Susanna in the midst of a false
charge, hear Your people and free them from destruction by barbarians." And thereupon
a voice was heard sent by the Lord, "Let it be done to them according to your will."
And with great joy, he immediately paid his respects to the two youths who had been
sent to him, and thanked God that He had heard him. Know without doubt that you
have received life and victory through this saint, with the help of our Lord Jesus Christ
who lives and reigns through ages of ages. Amen.
Miracle 9
Among the other miracles I wish to insert this one also, a miracle which the holy
martyr Demetrius worked in our time. There was a certain bishop from the country of
the Africans, Cyprian by name, who cared for the true priesthood and led a life most
deserving of God. He arranged to journey to the queen of cities, Byzantium, on a
pressing matter of necessity. And when they had sailed for many days and had already
drawn near to the regions of Greece, he was captured by the most fierce Slavs together
with all his [companions]. When they had divided these captives among themselves,
the [Slavs] enslaved the aforementioned bishop together with his [companions]. When
these things had been done in this way, they returned to their native places, and each
barbarian placed the burden of slavery upon his captive according as he wished. Bishop
Cyprian managed his lord's stores and distributed his foodstuffs wisely and with
foresight, and in praiseworthy fashion took comfort in prayers, vigils, and fasts. And he
said to the Lord, "Although I am without any merit, you appointed me a shepherd of
your flock; how have I now been brought to such a state that I have been demoted
from such rank to the service of the barbarians ? But I call to mind that this has
happened to me on account of my sins, and that it is for this reason that I am held
ensnared by this affliction. Who will guide my sheep now that their shepherd has been
captured by barbarian animals ?" While he was weeping about these and similar
things, a beautiful young man, decorous in form, with a military bearing and
appearance, said to him, "If you want to be freed from the slavery in which you are
held and to be rescued from the barbarians, rise and follow me. Watch yourself, while
we are walking, lest you say anything at all to me; but let us march each striving for
quiet and praying to God in our minds." Then the bishop replied to him, "Who are you
and from where have you come here ?" The other said to him, "I am called Demetrius,
and I am a soldier of the great emperor. My house stands in the middle of the city of
Thessalonica, to which I will lead you without harm if you follow me." Rising, therefore,
he followed him, and they both proceeded in silence. They marched during the night
and rested during the day. Furthermore, Demerius used leave the bishop in the
morning and return to him again as the evening drew near, bringing with him fruit from
various trees, together with the berries of shrubs, with which he fed his companion,
and when they had taken their food, they used begin their journey. After eight days,
when they had drawn near the walls of the city already mentioned, Demetrius set
Cyprian in front of the gates of the city and [col. 725] disappeared. When the bishop
looked for his faithful guide and good companion and did not find him, he entered the
city. He made enquiries of those he met and asked them where was the house of
Demetrius the soldier. And when they replied that there were many Demetrii in the city
who discharged military office, he remarked, saying, "The house of the one I am
looking for is in the middle of the city." Therefore, since they were are all at a loss in
this matter, the man being sought was found nowhere. However, the inhabitants of the
city led the bishop to the church of the martyr. When he entered, he immediately
surrendered himself to prayer, and gave thanks and praise to God the Saviour; and as
he raised his hands and eyes in prayer, he saw an image of the martyr Demetrius in
the clothing of his companion and guide. Then, in the presence of all, he cried out,
declaring that, without a doubt, it was Demetrius himself who had guided and saved
him, and that this was the house which the martyr himself had mentioned to him as he
appeared to him in the beginning. Then the presence of [this] man was reported to the
bishop of the city, and the things which had happened to him were noted down. He
immediately welcomed his fellow minister, took him into his house, and treated him
kindly. But [Cyprian] could not bear to be separated from the church of the holy martyr
even for a moment, and spent the whole time for which he remained in the city in this
same church. When he had spent the winter there waiting for the time for sailing, and
the time arrived there, he boarded a ship taking with him an image of the martyr
Demetrius, and successfully sailed to the city of Constantinople. When he had suitably
disposed of his business, with the help of the most victorious martyr Demetrius he
returned from there to his country and flock, promising the martyr great honour on
account of what had happened. Moreover, he wanted to build a ciborium and ambo
similar to that which he had seen [at Thessalonica], with marble columns, in honour of
the martyr saint Demetrius. He was very worried next because he totally ignorant of
the equipment needed for these things and how to do this. Finally, one night when the
bishop was exhausted by the great toing-and-froing of his thoughts, tiredness came
over him, and he immediately fell asleeep. And behold, there stood before him the
holy martyr Demetrius, saying to him, "Why are you sad, brother ? Did you not hear
the Lord Jesus saying to his disciples, "Amen I say to you, if anyone tells this
mountain, "Rise and throw yourself into the sea", and does not hesitate at heart, but
believes that whatever he says will happen, it will happen for him" ? [col. 726] Where
is your faith ? O man, do not be troubled over the columns or the ambo, since a ship
will put in from the sea today carrying all the things which you seem to need for the
preparation of the temple. For there is a bishop in the region of Gaul, in the city of
Marseilles, who cares for the people entrusted to him and is building a temple in
honour of the holy martyr Victor, my comrade or brother, and desires to build an ambo
and ciborium in it just as in your church. For this reason, he sent a ship with his
servants to Mt. Porphyry in order to buy enough porphyry columns and slabs to
complete the work in honour of the holy martyr Victor. But the holy martyr has now
intervened and the aforementioned bishop has now found [some] wonderfully coloured
porphyry columns and slabs which have lain on the ground for a long time just outside
his city. The martyr of Christ is sending us the ship with the porphyry columns and
slabs bought by his representatives in order for you to make from them the work which
you desire to make for me." Rising at last from his bed, the [bishop] reported his
vision to his clerics, and sent them to the sea-harbour on this account. These, when
they had found the ship and talked to its captain, asked what price they would take for
the marble columns and sheets in order to fulfil the bishop's wish. But the ship's
captain and those with him were unwilling [to sell] and completely denied that they
had any of the things being sought. The clerics who had been sent by their bishop
reported these things and left him sad. Frustrated in his plans, he proceeded to grieve.
And the holy martyr Demetrius appeared to him in a vision, saying, "Go yourself to the
aforementioned ship's captain and tell him, "Do not lie; for you have in your ship an
ambo which is tightly packed in and other marble pieces which have been hidden away.
Do not hesitate to give me these because of the bishop who sent you to get them. For
my brother in the city of Marseilles has discovered how to finish the work on his own
oratory." And when the bishop had gone off and said these things to the captain, and
told him his marvellous visions, he persuaded him to accept from him the price offered
for the marbles. And so it happened. Hence the bishop dedicated the temple which he
built in honour of the holy martyr Demetrius, with an ambo and a ciborium, in praise of
Christ and for the glory of the oft-mentioned martyr. If any sick person goes to this
temple in prayer, and if he is annointed with oil from his lamp, he will be cured there
as a result of his [the martyr's] prayers and through our Lord Jesus Christ who lives
and reigns through ages of ages. Amen.
St Demetrius
The Passion (BHL 2122) and Miracles (BHL 2123) of St.
Demetrius by Anastasius the Librarian