Demetrias, St.

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Fifth-century virgin and ascetic; b. c. 398, Rome; d.460. She came of the illustrious gens Anicia. Demetrias escaped to Africa with her mother Juliana and her grandmother Faltonia Proba after Alaric's siege of Rome in 410. In 413 or 414 she received the veil of the consecrated virgin from Aurelius, Bishop of Carthage. Congratulations, addressed to Proba and Juliana, came from Pope innocent i (Patrologia Latina 20:518519) and St. au gustine (Ep. 150). Demetrias received carefully composed letters of direction from St. jerome (Ep. 130) and from pelagius (Patrologia Latina 33:10991120). In Ep. 188, Augustine warned her against Pelagius's letter, criticizing its ambiguous position on grace. Later, after returning to Rome, she received another letter, written probably by St. prosper of aquitaine (Patrologia Latina 55:161180). During the pontificate of St. leo i (44061) she arranged to have a church in honor of St. Stephen built on her estate on the Via Latina. Excavation of the ruins in 1858 brought to light the dedicatory inscription (E. Diehl, Inscriptiones Christianae latinae veteres 1765). Until the 1960 revision of the Roman Breviary, her name was mentioned in the Divine Office for the feast of St. Leo (April 11).

Feast: Feb. 24.

Bibliography: m. gonsette, "Les Directeurs spirituels de Démétriade," Nouvelle revue théologique 60 (1933) 783801. g. bardy, Dictionnaire de spiritualité ascétique et mystique. Doctrine et histoire, ed. m. viller et al. (Paris 1932) 3:133137. k. c. krabbe, Epistula ad Demetriadem de vera humilitate (Catholic University of America, Patristic Studies 97; 1965).

[k. c. krabbe]