In December 1651, in Makarovo borough, which lay 40 versts (a Russian unit of distance equal to 1.067 km) from Kiev, a son named Daniel was born into the family of a Cossack, Savva Grigorievich Tuptalo. At that time, the Cossack Tuptalo was a member of the Pereyaslavl Rada (Cossack Council) created to organize Ukraine’s reunification with Russia.
When he was 11 years old, Daniel was assigned to study at the Kiev Monastery School.
At the age of 17 the young man took his monastic vows and the name Demetrius at St. Cyril Monastery. From that time on, the young man, who had a natural talent for poetry and public speaking in elaborate, sophisticated style.
Meeting well-educated representatives of clergy on the one hand, and using his natural talents and abilities on the other, defined the young man’s fate in the following years. He served at Kanevskiy and Gustynskiy Monasteries, travelled to Lithuania and Byelorussia, stayed at Baturinskiy monastery and, at last, arrived at Kiev Cave Monastery, where he took his vows of monastic obedience, thus starting out on the path that would glorify his name. At the cave monastery he began the voluminous work of writing the Menaia (Books of the Lives of the Saints).
This hagiographic book that summed up 20 years of the monk’s hard work was published in the Kiev Cave Monastery and made Demetrius well-known in Moscow. In 1701, Peter the Great noticed the talented priest, and by his urgent request, Demetrius was made a Metropolitan of Siberia. However, because of his poor health, he was later transferred to Rostov the Great, where he served as the Metropolitan of Rostov between 1702 and 1709. There he devoted himself completely to the clergy and to the enlightenment of laymen. He founded a school for children of all social classes at the monastery; it was the first school of its kind in Russia to teach Greek and Latin.
Peter the Great’s contemporary and supporter of and member of the highest-ranking clergy, Demetrius was equally successful as a thinker and as a practicing priest.
In 1757, by the resolution of the Holy Synod, Demetrius was canonized in appreciation of his great service to the Orthodox Church and to his homeland. In 1761, Empress Elizabeth of Russia named a fortress that was being built, according to Peter the Great’s plan, near the river Don, St. Demetrius of Rostov’s name. Later, the fortress gave its name to the city of Rostov-on-Don that emerged around it.