St. Demetrios was born in a.d. 270 in Salonika, now Thessalonika in Greece, then part of the Roman Empire. His father was the military governor of the city, and a secret Christian. When his father died, St. Demetrios, a brave and vigorous soldier, was named the military governor in his father’s place by the Emperor Maximian. When the emperor asked him to return to Salonika and persecute Christians, St. Demetrios went in the city and proclaimed his faith, turning many to the Lord. For this he was imprisoned.
The young man Nestor came to St. Demetrios while he was in prison and asked a blessing to fight single-handedly in the arena a giant Vandal gladiator named Lyaeus, who had been killing Christians before the multitudes. Lyaeus was the Emperor Maximian’s favorite gladiator, and fed his blood lust for innocent Christian blood. With St. Demetrius’ blessing, St. Nestor went out against Lyaeus like David against Goliath, made the Sign of the Cross and said, “O God of Demetrios, help me!” Lyaeus was killed. The emperor had St. Nestor beheaded, and St. Demetrios run through with spears. They both went to Heaven in a.d. 306.