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March 7, 2019

Synaxarion of Saint Ephraim, Patriarch of Antioch (+ 545)

St. Ephraim of Antioch (Feast Day - March 7)


Ephraim the shepherd is joined with the shepherd,
Lesser with the greater, O great dignity!

Saint Ephraim came from Amidene and was a count by office, when Justinus the Thracian was reigning in 518. He came to Antioch to rebuild it because it had been destroyed by earthquakes for a second time. By royal command he was consecrated Bishop by the people of Antioch in 527, as Meletios (vol. 2) writes, and as it had happened in times of old with Ambrose of Milan and Nektarios of Constantinople.

Ephraim was a great enemy of the Monophysites. He thus wrote strongly against them, as Photios says. He heard that there was stylite monk in Hierapolis who was a follower of Severus the Monophysite. He therefore was moved by divine zeal, went to him, and started teaching him the orthodox faith. But the monk was not at all convinced by his words. The monk therefore said: "Let us both enter into the fire, and whoever is not harmed by the flame is orthodox and victorious." He said these words in order to scare Ephraim away. But Ephraim said: "Bring here wood and fire and I shall enter into it, resting all my courage in the all-powerful God. Therefore, you, too, descend from your pillar." But the monk did not want to come down. Then, Ephraim took his overcoat off, prayed, and threw both himself and his overcoat onto the fire. Then - O the miracle! - miraculously the fire was immediately put out and he and his overcoat remained unharmed and unburnt. When the monk saw this miracle, he came down from his pillar and anathematized Severus' heresy. Thus, the monk was united with the catholic Church. These things are told by Sophronios, Patriarch of Jerusalem.

Because Antioch had been ruined by earthquakes for a second time, as we have said above, the fear of earthquakes made every Christian write on the door of their house these words: "May Christ stand with us." Because of this Antioch was called Theoupolis (God's city), as Nikephoros relates in Book 17 of his History. Many lamentations were composed by the above-mentioned Emperor Justinus because of this destruction. Saint Ephraim shepherded his flock well in a God-pleasing manner, for eighteen years according to Meletios (vol. 2), and he departed to the Lord.