Icon of St. Dimitry Donskoy 20th c. - (1DD30)

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Commemorated May 19

The holy Prince Dimitry, son of Prince Ivan the Beautiful and Princess Alexandra, was born on October 12, 1350 and was brought up in love for God and the Holy Church under the tutelage of the holy hierarch Alexis of Moscow. In the prince’s upbringing the hierarch was greatly assisted by Saint Sergius of Radonezh. Prince Dimitry’s Christian piety was combined with the talent of a prominent statesman. He dedicated himself to the cause of uniting Russian lands under the primacy of the Great Princes of Moscow and liberating Russia from the Tatar yoke. For all his activities the Great Prince obtained the Church’s blessing. While gathering his forces for the decisive battle with the Tatar hordes of Khan Mamay, St. Dimitry visited the Holy Trinity monastery near Moscow (at that time it was called the Home of the Holy Trinity), and shared with St. Sergius his doubts concerning the combat-worthiness of his small army in comparison with Mamay’s great host. The venerable saint prayed to God and then blessed the prince, prophesizing victory for his Christian army. The elder encouraged the prince and his soldiers by sending along with them two former great warriors and now Trinity schemamonks – Alexander (Peresvet) and Andrey (Oslyabya).

Before the battle St. Dimitry earnestly prayed to God and then turned to his warriors, saying: “Brothers, the time has come for us to drink from our cup , and may this place become our grave for the sake of Christ…” The battle took place on the Kulikovo field, between the rivers Don and Nepryadva, on the day of the feast of the Nativity of the Holy Theotokos, September 8 (21), 1380. For this victory the Great Prince Dimitry earned the appellation of Donskoy. In gratitude to God and His Most-holy Mother, St. Dimitry established the Dormition monastery on the Dubenka River and built a church in honor of the Nativity of the Holy Theotokos over the graves of the fallen warriors. At the same time, in the Trinity Monastery, the holy prince instituted the custom of a universal commemoration of fallen warriors (thus arose the Demetrius ancestral Saturdays). Before his death the Great Prince wrote a spiritual testament, enjoining his children to honor their mother – the Great Princess Evdokia (Euphrosinia in monasticism; reposed on July 7 (20), 1407; commemorated as a saint), and government rulers to live according to God’s commandments, establishing peace and love among the people.

St. Dimitry reposed in the Lord on May 19, 1389 and was buried in the Archangel Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin. Veneration of the Great Prince Dimitry began soon after his repose. The saint’s life provided a vivid example of love for God, neighbors, and homeland.