February 16, 2011

Official Glorification Sought For St. Ephraim of Nea Makri

An epistle was sent out by the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew requesting the recognition of Saint Ephraim, who was martyred in 1436 and whose miraculous relics were divinely revealed in 195o, within the membership of the List of Saints of the Orthodox Church.

Sixty years after the discovery of the relics of the Saint, the Standing Holy Synod of Greece, in a letter sent - as required - to the Ecumenical Patriarch as the sole power to promote the request, requested that his memory be celebrated on May 5th as well as January 3rd, since on the latter date his holy relics were discovered.

It is interesting to note that this is Archbishop Ieronymos' first attempt since being elevated as Archbishop of Greece three years ago to enlist someone in the List of Saints.

The Holy Synod wrote to the Patriarch that Saint Ephraim is widely acknowledged by Orthodox throughout the world as a saint. They further stated that "the influx of pilgrims is massive, almost daily, and on Sundays and holidays the monastery is flooded with pilgrims from all of Greece.... The honor towards Saint Ephraim the New is clearly widespread throughout Greece and outside of it.... There are churches dedicated to the Saint in Sitia and Tinos.... Icons of the Saint are venerated throughout the Orthodox world."

The late Archbishop Christodoulos of Greece also attempted to canonize St. Ephraim, but Metropolitan Panteleimon of Attica in 1997 stated in a letter that "according to Orthodox tradition and order, the Orthodox Church proclaims and establishes saints according to the conscience of the ecclesiastical world, and the administrative authority of the Church simply confirms the faith of the pious people, and that such a decision is declaratory in nature."

Indeed, Metropolitan Panteleimon was referring to the miracles of the Saint and the thousands of pilgrims who annually flood the monastery.

A year later, while the Holy Synod of Greece called upon the Ecumenical Patriarchate to induct the Saint in the Hagiology, a conflict arose between the Metropolitan of Attica and the Monastery where St. Ephraim's relics lie and the issue became "frozen".