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This icon comes from an Orthodox church in the village of Czarna in the Beskid Sądecki. It presents a whole-figure depiction of St. Dmitry, shown en face, with a cross in his right hand and with his left hand making a gesture of profession of the Christian faith. The saint is shown in ancient robes, without attributes of a soldier's profession. His name is inscribed above his head in the Cyrillic alphabet.

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This icon has been in the Nowy Sącz collection since 1950. It arrived at the museum as a result of the action of securing the property formerly belonging to Lemko people. This action was carried out in 1947, by the Provincial Conservator of Monuments in Kraków, on the recommendation of the Ministry of Culture and Art, in connection with the mass deportation of the Lemkos. At that time, a group of historians and conservators toured Lemko villages in the Nowy Sącz area, collecting objects found in attics and lean-tos. The artefacts left behind by the departing inhabitants – which had been exposed to destruction or theft – were deposited in the rented Museum Depot in Muszyna, after having been labelled with cards stating the name of the town.

St Demitrios is shown in ancient robes, with no attributes of a soldier’s profession. The scenes from the life of St. Demetrios take place against a background of architecture; each one is described at the top of a quarter panel.

The following representations (from above) are to found on the left side of the picture: 1. St. Demetrios, imprisoned; 2. St. Demetrios, the blessed Nestor; 3. Nestor at the tsar’s court demands a fight with Lajos; 4. Nestor pierces Lajos with a spear

The following representations are to be found on the right, also looking from the top: 5. St. Nestor beheaded; 6. the greatly angered tsar ordering Demetrios be pierced with spears in prison; 7. the Funeral of Saint Demetrios; 8. the healing of the sick person brought to the grave of St. Demetrios.
Demetrios, the Great Martyr and Saint, was a soldier, governor, and protector of the city of Thessalonica (Sołuń, in Church Slavonic language). For the Christian faith in 306, at the behest of the Emperor Maximian, he suffered a martyr’s death by being pierced with spears. After many years, his tomb was found, and it was established that the body was intact. At this place, a temple was built, which became a pilgrimage destination. It was believed that through the intercession of the saint, the miracle of saving the city from invasion had occurred many times, which is why knights acknowledged Demetrios as their patron. He is most often shown as a young man, standing in soldier’s uniform, armed with a spear, bow, and shield. In the Balkans, the variant depicting this saint on horseback dominates. Demetrios of Sołuń, next to George and Theodor, belongs to the group of holy warriors surrounded by the most common cult in Ruthenia, as evidenced by the large number of Orthodox churches dedicated to him.

Elaborated by Maria Marcinowska (Nowy Sącz District Museum),  © all rights reserved

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Icon “St. Demetrios the Martyr”

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