Hundreds of people began gathering early on Monday morning at Thessaloniki’s fifth-century Church of Agios Demetrios, on the annual feast day of the patron saint of the city, reports Greek Reporter.
This day also marks the liberation of the Greek city by the Greek Army in 1912 during the Ottoman Wars after five centuries of occupation by its Turkish overlords.
Pilgrims wearing masks waited patiently in long lines to give their respects to the saint at the iconic church of Thessaloniki, which was one of the most important cities during the early years of Christianity, and where the Apostle Paul once preached.
The 7th-century mosaic of the martyr, located in the church dedicated to him, is one of the earliest images of St. Demetrios. According to the early accounts of his life, including the “Miracles of St. Demetrius,” the martyr was born to Christian parents in Thessaloniki, in what was then called the region of Illyricum, in the year 270.
Demetrius, born into a senatorial family, became proconsul of the district of Thessalonica. As a result of standing up for this faith, Demetrios was run through with spears in approximately the year 306 AD in Thessaloniki, during the Christian persecutions of Galerian, which matches his depiction in the 7th century mosaics.
The President of the Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, attended the ceremony along with a limited number of officials, due to coronavirus restrictions.