Ephraim of Nea Makri

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St. Ephraim of Nea Makri or St. Ephraim of Mount Amomon (Greek: Άγιος Εφραίμ Νέας Μάκρης / του Όρους των Αμωμών), believed to have lived from 1384 to 1426, is venerated as a martyr and miracle-working saint by many Orthodox Christians of Greece and abroad. His status as a saint is controversial to the secular West, as there are no sources testifying to his existence as a historical person. Believers regard him as a "newly revealed" ("νεοφανείς") saint, whose existence is a matter of divine revelation rather than historical proof. He has become one of the most beloved saints in the last thirty years and is a center of pilgrimage for the entire country of Greece. His martyric death is commemorated by the church May 5 and the discovery of his relics January 3. The relics were discovered through divine intervention in 1950; 524 years after his death.

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History

St. Ephraim's name and biography, complete with exact dates and details, is said to have been revealed to a hermit nun, Sister Makaria Desypri (1911-1999), in a series of divinely inspired dreams in 1950. Following these dreams, she believed she was led by God to restore the Monastery of the Annunciation in Nea Makri which had been destroyed by pirates in the fifteenth century.

With the permission of the local bishop, she took possession of the partially built chapel and as she worked she eventually cleared away the rubble and prayed to find out more about the monk who had once lived there. This prayer was answered with a strong thought to "Dig up the earth here and you will find what you are looking for". With the assistance of a young worker they uncovered a fireplace, three small windows, and a partially ruined wall, indications that this had been a cell.

A body believed to be that of the saint was found in the ground near the nun's hermitage, on the site of an abandoned medieval monastery on the slopes of Mount Amomon, near the town of Nea Makri, in Attica. The saint, whose body was kept as a holy relic, quickly became the object of popular veneration, as he came to be known as a worker of miraculous healing. On the site of his supposed life and martyrdom a Monastery of the Annunciation of Our Lady (Ιερά Μονή Ευαγγελισμού της Θεοτόκου) was later re-founded. In 1998, Ephraim was officially glorified a saint by the Synod of the Orthodox Church in Greece, pending approval by the Patriarch of Constantinople.

Biography

According to the dreams revealed to Makaria Desipri, St. Ephraim was born on September 14 1384 in Trikala, Thessalia. His civil name was Konstantinos Morphes. He became a monk, took the monastic name of Ephraim and moved to Attica to live in what was then the Monastery of the Annunciation of Our Lady on Mount Amomon. In 1424 the monastery was destroyed by marauding Ottoman Empire troops. Ephraim escaped and lived for another year as a hermit among the ruins of the monastery. In September 1425 he was captured in another Turkish raid. He was held captive and tormented for more than eight months, until he was finally tortured to death on May 5 1426. A mulberry tree, believed to be that on which the saint was hanged, is today shown as an object of veneration inside the re-erected monastery.

Veneration

St. Ephraim is portrayed in iconography as a slim, ascetic figure with black hair and beard, clad in the black robes of a monk. His feast days are January 3 (the anniversary of the discovery of his body), and May 5 (the anniversary of his martyrdom).

The monastery in Nea Makri, the centre of the saint's veneration and his miracle-working, is now a much-frequented place of pilgrimage attracting thousands of visitors, especially people praying for the healing of illnesses.

Glorification

The Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate inducted St Ephraim of Nea Makri to its List of Saints of the Church of Greece March 4, 2011.

The decision was taken following a letter sent by the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which called for the inclusion of Saint Ephraim into the List of Saints sixty years after the discovery of his relics.

A Synodical Bishop of the Ecumenical Throne, commenting on the decision to Romfea.gr, stressed that

"the Righteous martyr Ephraim is honored by all Greeks as a saint, and he has also performed very many miracles, for which the Ecumenical Patriarchate has carefully considered the report and decided as necessary."

Also it should be noted that Metropolitan Kyrilos of Kifissia, Maroussi and Oropos arrived today at the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The information indicates that Metropolitan Kyrilos met at noon at the Phanar with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew where he was briefed on the decision of the Holy Synod.

Previous attempts to induct Ephraim were attempted during the course of the Archbishopric of the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos (1997) prompted then by Metropolitan of Attica Panteleimon Bezeniti.

[1]


References

  1. Aimilios Polygenis, March 4, 2011, Romfea.gr http://romfea.gr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=8049:-l-r&catid=13

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