Ephraim of Nea Makri
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 Greek 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 loved 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.
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 15th-century.
With the permission of the local bishop, she took possession of the partially built chapel and as she worked 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, Greece. 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 healings. On the site of his supposed life and martyrdom a Monastery of the Annunciation of Our Lady (Ιερά Μονή Ευαγγελισμού της Θεοτόκου) was later erected. In 1998, Ephraim was officially declared a saint by the Synod of the Orthodox Church in Greece, pending approval by the Patriarch of Constantinople.
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.
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.
In the News
The monastery was the object of a public scandal in 2005, as the nuns of the monastery and the bishop of Attica accused each other of embezzling money from pilgrims' donations.
- Ι.Μ. Αγίου Εφραίμ Νέας Μάκρης on Pathfinder club (in Greek)
- New Martyr Ephraim on flickr uploaded on April 18, 2007 by chadzimarko.
- Icon of Holy New Martyr Ephraim of Nea Makri on OrthodoxPhotos.com
- Story of healing citation needed