Featured Saint 25/1

St Ephraim the Syrian


Claim to fame: Though St. Ephrem was probably not formally a monk, he was known to have practiced a severe ascetical life, ever increasing in holiness. In Ephrem’s day, monasticism was in its infancy in the Egypt. He seems to have been a part of a close-knit, urban community of Christians that had “covenanted” themselves to service and refrained from sexual activity. Some of the Syriac terms that Ephrem used to describe his community were later used to describe monastic communities, but the assertion that he was monk is probably anachronistic.


Quote: Whenever I have meditated upon You I have acquired a veritable treasure from You; whatever aspect of You I have contemplated, a stream has flowed from You; there is no way I can contain it. Your fountain, Lord, is hidden from the person who does not thirst for You


Fun fact: Ephrem is popularly believed to have taken certain legendary journeys. In one of these he visits St. Basil the Great. This links the Syrian Ephrem with the Cappadocian Fathers, and is an important theological bridge between the spiritual view of the two, who held much in common.