Saint Ephraim of Nea Makri is becoming more and more popular with Orthodox Greeks. This saint became known not long ago, in spite of the fact that he lived and died as a martyr in the 15th century. There is a long list of accounts regarding miracles and prayerful help of St. Ephraim. Let’s list the main facts from the life of St. Ephraim and find out how this saint became famous.
1. The future saint was born on the Day of Exaltation of the Lord’s Cross (September 14, 1384) in Trikala, Thessalia, on the territory of modern Greece. The fact that the saint was born on that day proved to be symbolic because he would praise God through his crucifixion upside down, like Apostle Peter.
2. Ephraim was reared by a godly mother and decided to go to Holy Annunciation Monastery on the slopes of Mount Amomon, near the town of Nea Makri, in Attica. He spent twenty-seven years as a monk there. He was ordained into priesthood.
3. On September 14, 1425, the saint’s birthday and the Day of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the monastery was marauded by Ottoman pirates. Many monks were beheaded. Saint Ephraim managed to escape and spent a while as a hermit among the ruins of the monastery. Sadly, the pirates raided the monastery again and captured Saint Ephraim. He was tormented to make him renounce Christ.
4. The pirates held Ephraim in a small room, tormenting him and then letting his wounds heal before torturing him again. Finally, Ephraim was hanged on a mulberry tree, which has stood in the center of the monastery yard, on May 5, 1426. They nailed his feet and hands. The robbers asked the holy monk derisively, “Where is your God and why won’t He help you?”
Ephraim replied, “O God, please don’t listen to what these men say. May Thy will be done.” The pirates ripped off the saint’s beard. One of them pierced his abdomen with a heated iron rod, which was the immediate cause of the holy father’s death.
5. All these facts from the saint’s life aren’t historically accurate: they were revealed to Nun Makaria Desypri (1911-1999) by God in a dream. Nun Makaria rebuilt the ruined monastery in the 1950s. She unearthed fragrant relics of an unknown holy man on January 3, 1950. That holy man appeared to her in a dream later and said that his name was Ephraim. The same holy man appeared to other nuns and lay people, too.
6. Healings keep happening by the relics of the holy monk-martyr. There are a lot of letters that describe how the saint helped various people in the monastery archive. 124 testimonies had been accumulated by 1999.
7. Six years after the uncovering of the relics, the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece sent a letter to the Ecumenical Patriarch, asking him to canonize St. Ephraim, in compliance with the usual procedure. The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople canonized Saint Ephraim of Nea Makri on March 2, 2011. The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church included St. Ephraim into the menologion of Moscow Patriarchate on December 29 of the same year. St. Ephraim is commemorated on May 5 O.S. – the day of his martyrdom, and on January 3 O.S., the day when his holy relics were uncovered.
Holy Martyr Ephraim, pray to God for us!