Much scholarly attention has focused on the role of St Demetrios in the maintenance of the civic identity and cultural independence of Thessalonika, the Byzantine Empire’s second city. Yet Thessalonika did not always win this struggle with Constantinople. In the mid-twelfth century, the emperor Manuel Komnenos launched an aggressive campaign to transplant Demetrios’ cult to the capital by requisitioning an item described as the saint’s ‘grave covering’. This relic, with its miraculous oil-exuding properties, became a new focus for the veneration of Demetrios beyond the control of the Thessalonian church authorities. It also exerted a profound influence on the Rus prince Vsevolod Iurevich, who spent a number of years in exile in Byzantium in the 1160s. After returning to Rus, Vsevolod imported a similar relic to adorn the city of Vladimir, demonstrating both his understanding of contemporary developments in Demetrios’ cult and his desire, like that of Manuel, to transplant its most noteworthy features to his own capital.
White, M. (2014). The “grave covering” of St Demetrios between Byzantium and Rus