Romanian Church begins 6-week pilgrimage with relics of St. Demetrius the New, patron of Bucharest (+VIDEO)

Câmpina, Prahova County, Romania, March 5, 2024

Photo: Basilica News Agency Photo: Basilica News Agency     

The Romanian Orthodox Church is festively celebrating the 250th anniversary of the arrival of the relics of St. Demetrius the New to Romania this year.

His relics have been protecting Bucharest since July 13, 1774, when they were removed from the village of Basarabov for protection from the fighting of the Russo-Turkish War of 1768-1774. Today, he is honored as the patron saint of the Romanian capital, and every year, there is a week-long pilgrimage around his October 27th feast day. The transfer of his relics to Bucharest is also celebrated on July 13.

In honor of the 250th anniversary, a pilgrimage with his relics began yesterday, March 4, and will continue until April 16. This will be the largest such pilgrimage with his relics since the 1950s, when Romania was going through a severe drought, reports the Basilica News Agency.

The 6-week journey began with a blessing service officiated at the Patriarchal Cathedral by His Grace Bishop Paisie of Sinaia, who noted that St. Demetrius has worked countless miracles of healing, aid, and deliverance over the years.

The relics were first taken to Câmpina, about an hour and a half north of Bucharest, where they blessed the faithful of several different parishes. Bp. Paisie preached:

Touching his holy relics makes us feel touched by God’s grace, to remember that our final goal is the Kingdom of Heaven. In his presence, as with other saints, we feel the need to cleanse our souls, to sanctify our lives, to become pleasing to God again, reconciled with our fellow men, reconciled with ourselves. We feel St. Demetrius as a good and protective friend with whom we cannot bear to part.

The first day of the pilgrimage ended at the Caraiman Monastery, where the hierarch celebrated Holy Unction and the All-Night Vigil.


Photo: Photo: St. Demetrius was born early in the 13th century to a peasant family in the village of Basarabov, then part of Bulgaria. Even in childhood, he gave himself to fasting and prayer.

Once, walking across a field, he accidentally stepped on a bird’s nest in the grass, killing the young birds. He was so filled with remorse that he went barefoot for three years, winter and summer, in penance. When he was grown he joined a monastery and, after a few years of community life, received a blessing to dwell in a cave near the River Lom.

After many years of solitary struggle, he reposed in his cave. 300 years passed, during which all memory of the simple ascetic was lost. Then, one spring the river flooded the cave and carried off St. Demetrius’ body, which had lain incorrupt in the cave for centuries. The body was carried downstream and buried in gravel. Another 100 years went by, and the saint appeared in a dream to a paralyzed girl, telling her to ask her parents to take her to the riverbank, where she would be healed.

The family, along with many clergy and villagers, went to a spot where some local people had earlier seen an unexplained light. They dug and soon unearthed the still-incorrupt and radiant body of St. Demetrius, by which the girl was instantly healed. A church was built in the village of Basarabov to honour the precious relics, and through the years the saint worked many miracles there.

In 1774, during the Russian-Turkish war, General Peter Saltikov ordered the holy relics taken to Russia so that they would not be desecrated by the Turks. When the relics came to Bucharest, a pious Christian friend of the general begged him not to deprive the country of one of its most precious saints; so the general took only one of the saint’s hands, sending it to the Kiev Caves Lavra. St. Demetrius’ body was placed in the cathedral of Bucharest, where it has been venerated ever since.

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