Thessaloniki Short Stories
The Patron Saint of Thessaloniki
By The Honest Explorers
St. Dimitrios Church
Saint Dimitrios is one of three churches in Thessaloniki you should definitely visit even if you are not interested in religion.
The Story of Dimitrios
In the late 3rd century the persecution of christianity was reaching a climax under the Emperors Galerius and Diocletian. At the same time, in Thessaloniki inhabited a young Roman soldier with a name Dimitrios. Talented, bright and a preacher of christianity. The latter made him very unpopular to the Emperor and Dimitrios found himself prisoner in a Roman bath – it sounds weird, I know.
In the same bath, Dimitrios received a visitor and follower named Nestoras. Nestoras had the fine idea to fight against the undefeated champion of the emperor Liaios. With the blaising of Dimitrios and the will to revenge the christian persecutors, Nestoras, in a David vs Goliath type of battle, managed to defeat his enemy despite the overwhelming odds.
When the emperor asked him how he managed to accomplish such a miraculous did, Nestoras got somewhat cocky: It was the love and power of the one God that aided me – the God of Dimitrios.
Galerios, offended, ordered the execution of both him and Dimitrios with the latter finding a bitter end with 33 spears (symbolic) piercing through his ribs.
In the aftermath of the event, the christians hid his buddy in the well, not to be dishonored by the pagans. Soon later, christianity became a legal religion and at the spot raised a small church. The great basilica was built about a century later by the Leondios, the prefix of the region when he, in a desperate attempt to cure his untreatable disease, tasted the miracle water of Dimitrios and became all well.
Sandly, the church has been entirely destroyed twice with the last one being during the Great Fire of Thessaloniki in 1917. However, the church has been well remade and currently operates with regular services.
If you visit, and you should, make sure to check the crypt: the underground space where the original bath used to be.
Fun fact: the city of Thessaloniki was liberated to the Ottomans on the anniversary of its patron Saint – Dimitrios: 26th of October 1912.