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It is interesting, that among the barbarians threatening the Romans, Slavs occupied an important place, in particular by intentionally settling upon the Thessalonian peninsula. There exists even the opinion that the parents of Saint Demetrios were of Slavic descent. While advancing towards the city, pagan Slavs were repeatedly turned away by the apparition of a threatening radiant youth, going around on the walls and inspiring terror in the enemy soldiers. Perhaps this is why the name of Saint Demetrios was particularly venerated among the Slavic nations after their enlightenment by the light of the Gospel truth. On the other hand, Greeks regard Saint Demetrios in terms of being a Slavic saint merely an arbitrary preference.
The very first pages of the Russian Primary Chronicle, as foreordained by God, is bound up with the name of the holy Greatmartyr Demetrius of Thessaloniki. The Chronicle relates that when Oleg the Wise threatened the Greeks at Constantinople (907), the Greeks became terrified and said, "This is not Oleg, but rather Saint Demetrios sent upon us from God." Russian soldiers always believed that they were under the special protection of the holy Greatmartyr Demetrios. Moreover, in the old Russian barracks the Greatmartyr Demetrios was always depicted as Russian by descent -- thus this image fused with the soul of the Russian nation.
Church veneration of the holy Greatmartyr Demetrios in Russia began with the time shortly after the Baptism of Rus'. Towards the beginning of the 570's the Dimitriev monastery at Kiev, known afterwards as the Mikhailov-Zlatoverkh monastery, was founded, The monastery was built by the son of Yaroslav the Wise, Great Prince Izyaslav, baptized Dimitri (+1078). The mosaic icon of Saint Demetrios of Thessalonica from the cathedral of the Dimitriev monastery has been preserved up to the present day, and is located in the State Tretyakov gallery. In the years 1194-1197 the Great Prince of Vladimir, Vsevolod III the Great-Nest -- baptized Dimitri -- "built at his court a beautiful church of the holy martyr Dimitri, and adorned it wondrously with icons and frescoes". The Dimitriev cathedral also reveals for the present the embellishment of ancient Vladimir. The wonderworking icon of Saint Demetrios of Thessalonica from the cathedral iconostas is located even now in Moscow, at the Tretyakov gallery. It was written upon a plank of wood from the grave of the holy Greatmartyr Demetrios, brought in 1197 from Thessalonica to Vladimir. One of the most precious depictions of the saint -- a fresco on a column of the Vladimir Dormition cathedral, is from the brush of the Saint Iconographer Andrei Rublev.
The veneration of Saint Demetrios continued also in the family of Saint Alexander Nevsky (23 November). Saint Alexander named his eldest son in honor of the holy Greatmartyr. And his younger son, holy Nobleborn Prince Daniel of Moscow (+1303, 4 March), built a temple in the name of the holy Greatmartyr Demetrios in the 1280's, which was the first stone church in the Moscow Kremlin. Later on in 1326, under Ivan Kalita, it was taken down and in its place was erected the Dormition cathedral.
The memory of Saint Demetrios of Thessalonica is historically associated in Rus' with the military, patriotism and the defense of the country. This is apparent by the saint's depiction on icons in the guise of a soldier in plumed armor, with a spear and sword in hand. On a scroll (in later depictions) is written a prayer, with which Saint Demetrios turned to God about the salvation of the people of Thessalonica, "Lord, let not the city nor the people perish. If You save the city and the people -- with them I shall be saved, if they perish -- I too perish with them".
In the particular spiritual experience of the Russian Church, veneration of the holy Greatmartyr Demetrios of Thessalonica is closely bound up with the memory of the defense the Native-Land and Church by the Great Prince of Moscow, Dimitri Donskoi (+1389) . "An Account of the Life and Repose Great Prince Dimitri Ivanovich, Tsar of Russia", written in the year 1393, already regards the Great Prince as a saint, as also do other old Russian histories. Great Prince Dimitri was a spiritual son and pupil of the Saint Metropolitan of Moscow Alexei (+1378, 12 February), and a disciple and associating also with other great figures of prayer in the Russian Land -- the Venerable Sergius Radonezh (+1392, 25 September, Dimitri of Prilutsk (+ 1392, 11 February), Saint Theodore of Rostov (+ 1394, 28 November). The Account states:
about the churches of God he [Great Prince Dimitri] worried much, and the territory of the Russian land he held by his bravery: many the enemy risen against us he conquered, and his glorious city Moscow he protected with wondrous walls. ...The land of Russia prospered during the years of his reign.
From the time of the building of the white-walled Kremlin (1366) by Great Prince Dimitri, Moscow was called "White-Stoned".