Lesson on Saint Demetrios

& Saint Nestor -

Προστάτης των Αθλητών

1. What is Christian Bravery

2. Taking a Blessing

3. Confessing Christ
Lesson on Sts Demetrios & Nestor - Προστάτης των Αθλητών
October 26
† Holy, Glorious and Great Martyr Demetrius the Outpourer of Myrrh (306)

October 27 Holy Martyr Nestor, Companion of St Demetrius (306)
St Demetrios was a native of Thessalonica, born of noble parents. His wisdom and
distinction in battle earned him rapid advancement in the service of the Empire: in time
he was appointed commander of all the Roman forces in Thessaly, and Proconsul of
Hellas. Despite these worldly honors, Demetrius put his Christian faith before all, and by
his words and example brought many pagans to faith in Christ.
When the Emperor Maximian, a persecutor of Christians, came to Thessalonica he
appointed games and public sacrifices to celebrate his recent victory over the Scythians.
Some jealous pagans used the visit to denounce Demetrius to the Emperor. Maximian had
Demetrius cast into a fetid cell in the basement of some nearby baths. Maximian had
brought with him a huge barbarian of tremendous strength named Lyaios, who fought
many men in the arena and defeated them all, to the entertainment of the Emperor and the
crowds. A young Christian named Nestor determined to show the people that the only
true strength is in Christ: he visited Demetrius in his cell and asked for his blessing to
challenge Lyaios to combat. The Martyr made the sign of the Cross over Nestor and sent
him to the arena with his blessing. Nestor, a young boy, cried out before the Emperor
'God of Demetrius, help me!' and quickly killed the mighty Lyaios, to the astonishment of
the crowd. The infuriated Emperor had Nestor slain with his own sword, and sent soldiers
to Demetrius' cell, where they killed him with their spears. Demetrius' servant, a believer
named Lupus, retrieved the body of Demetrius and buried it with honor. He kept the
Saint's ring and blood-stained tunic, and through them worked several miracles and
healings. When the Emperor heard of this, he had Lupus, too, beheaded.
As a sign of the grace that rested on the holy Demetrius, a fragrant myrrh flowed
copiously from the Martyr's body after his death, healing many of the sick. For many
centuries, St Demetrius has been a patron Saint of Thessalonica.

1. What is Christian bravery?

Many soldiers are brave. Some are strong in body and mentally trained tough for battle. Many
soldiers say they have little fear of their enemy.

In our story, Lyaios is brave but so is Nestor. Let’s compare them to see.

Lyaios is prideful, over confident, strong physically and in great size. He is undefeated in
battle so far. He is practically owned by the Emperor who uses him to gain popularity and
entertainment in the stadium. He serves like a slave bound to earthly victory and fighting when
the King says so. His enemy is of this world, meaning any other person who wishes to fight him.
Lyaios fights purely for an earthly reward, possibly gold or fame.

Nestor is rather free in comparison. Although he too is a soldier, he actually chooses to
take on such a battle with Lyaois. He doesn’t have to and in fact, the Emperor tries to discourage
him. Nestor is also a student, putting himself under a teacher and desiring to learn more of a life
in Christ. He strives to mimic his teacher and set his eyes on the hope of eternal life to come. His
enemy is not of this world, but powers of dark and forces of evil.

Here is advice given to the “Christian soldier” –( whether girl or boy )

Ephesians 6:10-18
“ Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you
can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against
the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. ...

13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may
be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then,
with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In
addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming
arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the
word of God.

 How could Nestor find a victory against the impossible? Would his own strength have been
enough? He was not even 20 years old most likely. What happens when we attempt something
on our own, with our own strength?

 What virtues helped him most?
HUMILITY - this is recognizing our own weaknesses, in order to put our confidence in
a greater strength. It is emptying the self of pride. Accepting ourselves as incapable.

“My strength is made perfect in your weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more
gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Cor 12:9

FAITH – is believing that everything is in God’s hands, and that He determines the
outcome. It is trusting in His will and surrendering our own control to God, who does all
things for the good of our salvation.

“I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me” Phill. 4:13

What shows you that St Nestor did not rely on himself? How do you know? What did he do?
Where did he go? Why did he go to St Demetrios to take a “blessing?”

Here’s what he said:

“Δούλε του Θεού Δημήτριε, είπε, εγώ είμαι πρόθυμος να μονομαχήσω με το Λυαίο, γι'
αυτό προσευχήσου για μένα στο όνομα του Χριστού.”
2. What does that mean to take a blessing?

Why do we take “blessings?” With humble respect for our spiritual leaders
Asking for the intercessions of these spiritual guides

For God to be with us, through our spiritual father
Submitting ourselves to the will of God…saying “May it
be blessed” or “if it is blessed, I will…”

Their response….”O Kurios” May the Lord bless you

When can we ask for a blessing? Before a trip, a task, a test, before a decision

Nestor is not the only one.
The story of David and Goliath….did David seek a blessing first?

1 Samuel 17

32 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this
Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”

33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this
Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has
been a warrior from his youth.”……………………

37
The LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the
paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this
Philistine.”

Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.”

38
Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic.

3. Finally, how does St Nestor confess his faith in Christ?

What does this mean? Sometimes it means before witnesses

When we have a chance to deny or proclaim Christ
before others

What did St Nestor say? «Ο Θεός Δημητρίου, βοήθει μοι». O God of Demetrios, Help Me!
After the victory of St Nestor,
the people cried out “Great Is the God of Demetrios!

This shows us the importance of making a confession for Christ. Others may be led to the true
faith in the same way.

This Confession of faith ultimately ended in an earthly martyrdom but a heavenly reward.

4. The Martyrdoms -

The enraged emperor, learning what had occurred with Demetrios's help, first had Nestor
beheaded outside the city and then had Demetrios, who was still held in prison, pierced to
death on his side, resembling our Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross.

Later Saint Demetrios's servant Lupus was beheaded after using his master's blood-stained tunic
and signet ring to work many miracles. The Christians buried Demetrius and Nestor next
together in the bath where Demetrius had been imprisoned. During the seventh century a
miraculous flow of fragrant myrrh was found emanating from his tomb, giving rise to the
appellation Mirovlitis, the Myrrh Gusher to his name. His tomb containing his relics is now in the
crypt of the Church of St. Demetrios in Thessaloniki.

ACTIVITY - Assign roles to replay the story

 Emperor Maximian
 Saint Nestor
 Lyaois
 Saint Demetrios
 Soldiers for the Emperor
 Lupus with Pious Christians who gathered the relics for burial