Sainted Ephrem, Patriarch of Antioch

Commemorated on June 8

      Sainted Ephrem, Patriarch of Antioch, a Syrian, was a military general under the emperors Anastasias (491-518) and Justin (518-527). The saint was distinguished for his virtue, piety, and compassion for all the destitute.
      In the year 526 the Lord punished Antioch for the straying of christians into the heresies of Nestorius and Eutykhes: an earthquake destroyed this magnificent city. A large number of the inhabitants perished. Patriarch Euphrasios was crushed beneathe a fallen column.
      The emperor summoned Saint Ephrem for the restoration of the ruined city. One of his workers, a bishop, who because of his obscure doings had withdrawn from being a bishop, predicted to Saint Ephrem his election to the patriarchal throne and asked him not to abandon deeds of charity and to struggle firmly against the heretics. In the year 527 Saint Ephrem was elected to the patriarchal throne. He firmly and wisely governed his flock and by the example of his life, by his sermons and letters he defended it against heretical teachings.
      A notion about the strength of his faith is given by the following event. Near Herakleia was a pillar-dweller practising asceticism, who had fallen into heresy. Learning about the ascetic, Saint Ephrem went to him and urged him to be re-united to the Orthodox Church. The pillar-dweller was not agreeable. He decided to frighten the patriarch and he offered to kindle a large bon-fire, so that they both might enter the fire. The bon-fire was set, but the pillar-dweller did not dare to go into it. The patriarch prayed to the Lord Jesus Christ to show that his was the correct faith and, removing his omophorion, he put it in the bon-fire. After three hours the fire-wood was consumed, but the omophorion of the saint was taken out unharmed. The pillar-dweller recanted from heresy and was re-united to the Church.
      Holy Patriarch Ephrem peacefully expired to the Lord in the year 425.
      Among his labours, Sainted Ephrem defended the teaching of the Orthodox Church about the union in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ of two natures the Divine and the human.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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