Ephrem of Edessa, Deacon

June 10 – Ephrem of Edessa, Deacon –

It is said that in 325 Ephrem accompanied his bishop, James of Nisibis, to the Council of Nicea. His writings are an eloquent defense of the Nicene faith in the Deity of Jesus Christ. He countered the Gnostics’ practice of spreading their message through popular songs by composing Christian songs and hymns of his own, with great effect. He is known to the Syrian church as “the harp of the Holy Spirit.”

Ephrem retired to a cave outside Edessa (in modern-day Turkey), where he lived in great simplicity and devoted himself to writing. He frequently went into the city to preach. During a famine in 372-3 he worked distributing food to the hungry, and organized a sort of ambulance service for the sick. He worked long hours at this, became exhausted and sick, and so died.