"St. Ephraim the Great Martyr of Nea Makri"
The Life & Miracles of the Holy New Martyr and wonderworker Ephraim of Nea Makri in Greece.
Commemorated on May 5th
St. Ephraim the Great Martyr of Nea Makri said: “I will do many miracles, I will help many people, before the sufferings come!…before the misfortunes (calamities) come”
The holy New Martyr and wonderworker Ephraim was born in Greece on September 14, 1384. His father died when the saint was young, and his pious mother was left to care for seven children by herself. When Ephraim reached the age of fourteen, the all-good God directed his steps to a monastery on the mountain of Anomon near Nea Makri in Attica. The monastery was dedicated to the Annunciation and also to St Paraskeva.
Here he took on his shoulders the Cross of Christ, which all His followers must bear (Matt. 16:24). Being enflamed with love for God, St Ephraim eagerly placed himself under the monastic discipline.
For nearly twenty-seven years he imitated the life of the great Fathers and ascetics of the desert. With divine zeal, he followed Christ and turned away from the attractions of this world. By the grace of God, he purified himself from soul-destroying passions and became an abode of the All-Holy Spirit. He was also found worthy to receive the grace of the priesthood, and served at the altar with great reverence and compunction.
On September 14, 1425, the barbarous Turks launched an invasion by sea, destroying the monastery and and looting the surrounding area. St Ephraim was one of the victims of their frenzied hatred. Many of the monks had been tortured and beheaded, but St Ephraim remained calm. This infuriated the Turks, so they imprisoned him in order to torture him and force him to deny Christ.
They locked him in a small cell without food or water, and they beat him every day, hoping to convince him to become a Moslem. For several months, he endured horrible torments. When the Turks realized that the saint remained faithful to Christ, they decided to put him to death. On Tuesday May 5, 1426, they led him from his cell.
They turned him upside down and tied him to a mulberry tree, then they beat him and mocked him. “Where is your God,” they asked, “and why doesn’t he help you?” The saint did not lose courage, but prayed, “O God, do not listen to the words of these men, but may Thy will be done as Thou hast ordained.”
The barbarians pulled the saint’s beard and tortured him until his strength ebbed. His blood flowed, and his clothes were in tatters. His body was almost naked and covered with many wounds. Still the Hagarenes were not satisfied, but wished to torture him even more. One of them took a flaming stick and plunged it violently into the saint’s navel.
His screams were heart-rending, so great was his pain. The blood flowed from his stomach, but the Turks did not stop. They repeated the same painful torments many times. His body writhed, and all his limbs were convulsed. Soon, the saint grew too weak to speak, so he prayed silently asking God to forgive his sins. Blood and saliva ran from his mouth, and the ground was soaked with his blood. Then he lapsed into unconsciousness.
Thinking that he had died, the Turks cut the ropes which bound him to the tree, and the saint’s body fell to the ground. Their rage was still not diminished, so they continued to kick and beat him.
After a while, the saint opened his eyes and prayed, “Lord, I give up my spirit to Thee.”
About nine o’clock in the morning, the martyr’s soul was separated from his body.
These things remained forgotten for nearly 500 years, hidden in the depths of silence and oblivion until January 3, 1950.”
I saw the martyrdom of Saint… - A vision of the martyrdom of St. Ephraim of Nea Makri
A very vibrant description of the martyrdom of St. Ephraim :
“I saw that I was dressed as an altar boy in the Monastery, and was helping the Saint in the Church. Straightaway, I saw that wild men with turbans on their heads, entered, holding clubs, sticks and swords. And from my fear I trembled, and I hid, gazing with agony on what was occurring…
All of them, screaming loudly, seized the Saint, and having tied him to the tree*, began to beat him, and to pierce him with their swords, and his blood ran onto the ground…
They martyred him unspeakably, cutting his body into little pieces, while the Saint in return, looked to heaven with his eyes and prayed. Furthermore, next to him was a small puppy who was barking, and tried to free him, while the tyrants chased him…
From my fear and my agony,” Mr. Spyropoulos continued, “as I was watching this life-like retelling of the martyrdom of St. Ephraim, I awoke, but when I fell asleep a short time later, the dream continued…
(Photo: *A mulberry tree, believed to be that on which the saint was hanged, is today shown as an object of veneration inside the re-erected monastery.)
I did not see the tyrants anymore, but only the Saint, bound on the tree (which exists to this day), drenched with his blood, gnarled everywhere, but he was not living anymore, he had died…
And I, having hid behind a fountain, was praying to God to give me strength, for I was afraid to come out, not knowing what to do.
And straightaway I saw that some violent men entered to hang the Saint, and to bring him to a pit further down, to place him in it. I saw further that the little puppy had a piece of flesh in his mouth that he placed in the pit, and he threw it in, screaming in pain. It was the exact same puppy that, in another vision, the Saint mentioned was “the only creature which stood beside me at that moment, licking my wounds…”
By Mr. Panagiotis Spyropoulos, Kandrinou 76, Athens, from within a special vision which he saw and is recorded in the 3rd volume of publications of the Holy Monastery.
The Miraculous Revelation
In 1945, Sister Makaria visited the ruins of the Ancient Monastery of the Annunciation (the so called Stavropegic), on the Mount of Amomoi, on the Pentelikon. She decided to live there and build a small room (cell) for herself. She also began unearthing the ancient ruins of the church in order to rebuild it. She often contemplated upon who had lived in those ruins and prayed to the monks who lived there to show themselves to her so that she would get to known them. Every now and then she would hear a voice deep in her soul, a voice that became clearer with time: ‘Dig and you will find what you are looking for’. In time, a specific point was revealed to her in the front yard of the ancient monastery.
On 3 January 1950 she asked a worker to dig at the front yard. The worker initially refused, but with her prayers and persuasion he decided to begin. At that specific point in the yard there were ruins of a fireplace, a wall, and items that indicated that exactly there used to be a monk’s cell (room). The first thing that was unearthed was a human skull and the whole place emmited a fragrant smell.
“I kneeled down with piety and venerated the holy body of the Saint. I felt his martyrdom deep in my soul. My heart was filled with joy, I had just found a treasure. I slowly cleared the soil from his holy remainings that seemed untouched by time’, wrote Abbess Makaria. She unearthed his body and placed it in a case over the tomb.
The same evening, while reading vespers, she heard footsteps. The sound came from the tomb and could be heard from the Church door. There she saw Saint Ephraim for the first time: tall, with small dark eyes, long dark beard, in monk’s clothes. In his one hand he was holding a flame, while he blessed with the other.
He asked for his body to be removed from the case. The next morning the Abbess took the holy relics from the case, cleaned them and put them in a small slot in the Church.
That same night Saint Ephraim appeared also in her sleep, thanking her and revealing his name: Ephraim. Saint Ephraim’s holy relics have been held there since and hundreds of faithful visit daily asking for his help and blessings.