St. David of Thessaloniki icon (1)
Orthodox icon of Saint David of Thessaloniki.
Commemorated December 15.
In Thessaloniki David became a monk at the Monastery of Sts. Theodore and Mercurius, otherwise known as Koukouliaton Monastery, at a young age between the years 465-470. At the Monastery of Sts. Theodore and Mercurius Saint David lived a life of prayer, fasting, vigils, humility, meditation of the sacred Scripture and the cultivation of all the virtues. When the abbot of the monastery passed away, the monks of the monastery found David alone worthy to replace him due to his spiritual gifts.
However David refused this honor, and instead decided to live his ascetic ordeals by climbing up an almond tree to the right of the church (the katholikon of the monastery) and living up there for three years. When those three difficult years passed, after instruction was given to him by an angel of the Lord to live in silence in a cell and he was foretold by this same angel that he would "accomplish one other act of love" before he died, Saint David came down from the almond tree and entered a cell that had been prepared by his disciples.
Living as a recluse in his cell and for his unparalleled ascetic feats, this Saint was considered as an angel of God by the people. Many people came to seek his prayers and many healings of demonic possession, diseases and suffering are reported. About 150 years after the Saint's death, in 685-690, the abbot of the monastery Demetrios opened his tomb in order to receive a portion of his relics. In doing so however, the plaque on the tomb fell and broke into many pieces. This was seen by the abbot as a sign that it was not the wishes of Saint David for his relics to be portioned.
A monk under Demetrios by the name of Sergius eventually became Archbishop of Thessaloniki. He was present when as a monk they had tried opening the tomb of the Saint. Honoring this occurrence, Sergius opened the tomb which emitted a beautiful fragrance from the incorrupt relics and took care to only remove some hair from the beard and head of the Saint in order to distribute to the faithful to increase their faith and help aid in their salvation.The tomb of the Saint remained undisturbed until the Fourth Crusade in 1204. In 1236 it was taken by Crusaders to Pavia, Italy and from there transferred to Milan in 1967.
Finally on September 16, 1978 through the efforts of Metropolitan Panteleimon of Thessaloniki, the sacred relics of Saint David were triumphantly returned to Thessaloniki and housed in the Basilica of Saint Demetrios the Great Martyr.