St. Demetrius: The Iconography

In Thessalonika, St. Demetrius the Proconsul. He led many to faith in Christ. For that reason the Emperor Maximian ordered that he be run through with a spear, and he was martyred. – Roman Martyrology for October 8

According to Butler (IV, 63), St. Demetrius was originally remembered as a Christian preacher who was martyred at Salonika or Sirmium at the order of the Emperor Maximian, who ruled from 286 to 305. Later legends made him a deacon, then a proconsul (provincial governor), and finally a soldier. It is as the latter that most extant images picture him.

The saint's attribute is the spear that was the instrument of his martyrdom.

Prepared in 2020 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University.


Tintoretto's portrait of St. Demetrius as a soldier. The red mantle indicates that he was martyred and the spear refers to how. (See the description page.)

Byzantine portraits like this ivory icon do without attributes, using inscriptions to identify.. (See the description page.)


  • Feast day: October 8