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St Demetrios Solunski (Russian for Demetrius of Thessaloniki) is depicted as a warrior saint in full armour on a bright red horse slaying the 'king of the infidels', who is also depicted on horseback in the cave-like abyss at the bottom of the image. On the right we see two people holding an icon of Demetrios before a church door, which is guarded by an angel. In the left-hand corner of the panel, above Demetrios' head, is a miniature image of the mandylion - Christ's face printed onto the veil which was given to King Abgar.
Demetrios is often referred to as the 'Great Martyr' or myroblytos ("giving forth myrrh"). Originally associated with 3rd century Sirmium (according to the early 5th century Syriac martyrology), but became connected to Thessaloniki after miracles attributed to him were reported in the famous Byzantine city.
Demetrios was originally portrayed as a youthful princely martyr, but by the 10th century he began to be portrayed as a warrior saint and was often paired with St George. Though the icons portray an act of violence, the imagery should primarily be taken to symbolise an esoteric tradition regarding holy warriors who battle for their inner transformation. For example, St. Paul exhorts us to 'put on the whole armour of God' (Eph. 6:11). While monks, writing in the anthology of early mystical writings of the Orthodox tradition, the Philokalia, speak repeatedly of 'hidden warfare' or 'spiritual warfare'. In addition, Unseen Warfare is the title of a classic of mystical writing.
The current version has a deep, warm glow that imparts a mysterious atmosphere to the scene.