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Venerable Ephrem The Syrian

Ephrem was born in Syria of poor parents during the reign of Emperor Constantine the Great. He spent his young life rather tempestuously; but all at once a change took place in his soul and he began to burn with love for the Lord Jesus. Ephrem was a disciple of St. James Nisibis (January 13). From the enormous Grace of God, wisdom flowed from his tongue as a brook of honey and ceaseless tears flowed from his eyes. Industrious as a bee, Ephrem continually either wrote books or orally taught the monks in the monastery and the people in the town of Edessa or he dedicated himself to prayer and contemplation. Numerous are his books and beautiful are his prayers. The most famous is his prayer recited during the Honorable Fast Season which reads:

Lord and Master of my life, give
me not a spirit of sloth, vain
curiosity, lust for power and idle talk.
But give to me, your servant, a spirit
of soberness, humility, patience and love.
O Lord and King, grant me to see
my own faults and not to condemn
my brother: for blessed are you
to the ages of ages. Amen.

When they wanted to appoint him a bishop by force, he pretended to be insane and began to race through the city of Edessa dragging his garment behind him. Seeing this, the people left him in peace. Ephrem was a contemporary and friend of St. Basil the Great. Saint Ephrem is considered mainly to be the Apostle of Repentance. Even today his works soften many hearts hardened by sin and return them to Christ. He died in extreme old age in the year 378 A.D.

Venerable Isaac The Syrian

Isaac was born in Nineveh and in his youth lived an ascetical life in the Monastery of Mar [Saint] Matthew in the proximity of Nineveh. When Isaac became known because of the sanctity of his life and of his many miracles, he was elected bishop of Nineveh and was forced to accept that rank. But, after only five months, he left the bishopric and secretly withdrew into the wilderness to the Monastery of Rabban Shabur. He complied many works of which about a hundred homilies on the spiritual life and asceticism, written primarily from his personal experience, have come down to us today. He was unequaled as a psychologist and as a director in the spiritual life. Even such saints as was St. Simeon [the New Stylite] of the Wonderful Mountain near Antioch sought counsel from him. Isaac died in extreme old age toward the end of the seventh century.

Venerable Palladius, Syrian Hermit

Palladius was a great ascetic and miracle-worker. In front of his cell there appeared a corpse of a certain wealthy man whom robbers had killed and looted. When Palladius was brought to court and, in order to be spared from misery, he prayed to God and through prayer resurrected the dead man. He died in the fourth century.

The Venerable Ephrem Of The Monastery Of The Caves In Kiev

Ephrem died in 1096 A.D. He instituted the Feast of the Translation of the Relics of St. Nicholas to Bari, Italy. This feast is celebrated on May 9.


From The Prologue From Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
© 1985 Lazarica Press, Birmingham UK