St. Ephraim of Nea Makri or St. Ephraim of Mount Amomon (Greek: Άγιος Εφραίμ Νέας Μάκρης / του Όρους των Αμωμών), believed to have lived from 1384 to 1426, is venerated as a martyr and miracle-working saint by many Greek Orthodox Christians in Greece. His status as a saint is controversial, as there are no sources testifying to his existence as an historical person. Believers regard him as a “newly revealed” (“νεοφανείς”) saint, whose existence is a matter of divine revelation rather than historical proof.
St. Ephraim’s name and biography, complete with exact dates and details, is said to have been revealed to a hermit nun, Makaria Desipri, in a series of divinely inspired dreams in 1950. Following these dreams, a body believed to be that of the saint was found in the ground near the nun’s hermitage, on the site of an abandoned medieval monastery on the slopes of Mount Amomon, near the town of Nea Makri, in Attica, Greece. The saint, whose body was kept as a holy relic, quickly became the object of popular veneration, as he came to be known as a worker of miraculous healings. On the site of his supposed life and martyrdom a Monastery of the Annunciation of Our Lady (Ιερά Μονή Ευαγγελισμού της Θεοτόκου) was later erected. In 1998, St. Ephraim was officially declared a saint by the Synod of the Orthodox Church in Greece, pending approval by the Patriarch of Constantinople.
According to the dreams revealed to Makaria Desipri, St. Ephraim was born on 14 September 1384 in Trikala, Thessalia. His civil name was Konstantinos Morphes. He became a monk, took the monastic name of Ephraim and moved to Attica to live in what was then the Monastery of the Annunciation of Our Lady on Mount Amomon. In 1424 the monastery was destroyed by marauding Ottoman troops. Ephraim escaped and lived for another year as a hermit among the ruins of the monastery. In September 1425 he was captured in another Turkish raid. He was held captive and tormented for more than eight months, until he was finally tortured to death on 5 May 1426. 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.
Selected miracles of St. Ephraim of Nea Makri
Selected miracles of St. Ephraim of Nea Makri (amateur translations and summaries from various Greek sources)
A couple of Notes:
These are just a few of the countless miracles that people attest to through the intercessions of St. Ephraim, the Newly-revealed Hieromartyr and Wonder-worker of Nea Makri. Though he hasn’t been officially acknowledged as a Saint by the Patriarchate yet (though the Church of Greece has done so), St. Ephraim is greatly beloved throughout the world, and continues to inspire and work endless healings of soul and body for the faithful.
These are some accounts from pious laypeople, who simply and honestly express the presence of Christ and His Saints in their lives. Though there might be some things mentioned that we have to be cautious about in general, including dreams, miracles, disdain for medicine, etc., one can sense both the humility and gratitude of these people who have clearly suffered so much, and the reality of Christ the God-man, Who is visiting and healing His creation through one of His great and beloved servants: St. Ephraim. May he intercede for us all and help us!
A dream of St. Ephraim
It was January of 1996, Sunday morning, when I saw in my sleep that I was in a great church richly adorned with gold and full of light and a great crowd was gathered inside and out. My one girl said that we should go venerate because the mother of one of our friends passed away. We waited in line and when I arrived in front I saw that instead of a coffin there was an upright reliquary made of glass and inside was a tall man, of a young age with a black beard, thin, with vestments and [engolpia] that Metropolitans wear. He wore a black archpriestly hat with a red cross on top, and he appeared alive as if he were sleeping. I venerated once puzzled and waited to see my mother’s friend, while on the glass I saw a small card attached which said: “Ephraim”. The next morning I awoke puzzled and questioned who it was that I saw, for I had never heard that name before and it seemed odd. I asked my Grandmother if there is a Saint Ephraim and she replied pompously: “Ephraim? Of course there is.” I felt goosebumps, how he appeared though I had never heard of him before.
Over the next few days I talked with a friend of mine who was very religious and went to church on Sunday at monasteries. He told me where the relic of the Saint was and began to tell me details about his life, and with great astonishment I found that the characteristics were the same as I had seen in my dream. My friend mentioned that I should go to the monastery, but because of work, I neglected it for two months.
Two months later, one Sunday, I was waiting for the bus to go to my Grandmother, and I remembered that I had neglected to go to St. Ephraim. Straightaway I saw a taxi which I stopped so that I could go faster. When I looked around inside the taxi, I saw a small icon of a Saint that the taxi driver had that I had never seen before. However, his face looked familiar. I asked the taxi driver: “Is that Saint there St. Ephraim?” The taxi driver responded affirmitively, and began to tell me how good and wonder-working the Saint is. After another month of not having visited the monastery, I left work and decided to walk instead of taking the bus. On the road I found a small church which was open around noon for a later funeral, and I again remembered the Saint, and regretted my negligence, and went inside to light a candle. Guess which icon they had in front: St. Ephraim!
After a few days I was made worthy to go to the monastery. My joy was indescribable. My heart was beating as if it were crazy. When I entered the courtyard a calmness filled my soul. I had the great fortune to thank the Saint, and I managed to meet and speak for the first (and unfortunately last) time with Gerontissa Makaria, an astonishing woman who, as soon as I told her these events, cried, but also laughed like a child. I rejoiced that my Saint had revealed himself. When I asked her why he appeared to me though I didn’t know him, and that I had great love towards the Panagia, she replied that St. Ephraim is one of her [the Panagia's] most beloved Saints.
From then I have visited the monastery many times and I pray to him. I thank him, for many times he has appeared to me in my sleep to warn me of something evil approaching. I will never forget the following. One morning I was taking a taxi to go to work, and inside there was an icon of St. Ephraim, and I started a conversation with the taxi driver. I was upset with some things that had occurred, and straightaway the taxi driver’s voice changed and he began to tell me the story of one of his friends and some advice exactly about my problem (I hadn’t shared any of my details with him). I looked at him and smiled: “Were you saying this or the Saint?” And he replied very seriously “The Saint”. I froze; he did the same, and then the tone of his voice changed and he became as he was in the beginning.
“From now on, your brother has St. Ephraim as a protector”
Five years ago, I don’t remember exactly when, I saw a dream that seemed so real, that I will never forget it until I die. I have three brothers, but to my youngest I have a special weakness, because I grew up with him. I should relate from the beginning that on the topic of religion, church, saints, etc., I was distant and indifferent, I would say.
Thus, in that dream that I saw, my brother G. and I were in a place outside the house and straightaway there was a great earthquake. The earth was split in two and took my younger brother. I looked at him and couldn’t do anything. I called on our Panagia and said: “My Panagia, bring back my brother, please”. And there where my brother was lost from my eyes in the earth, in front of me a white woman appeared like a shadow (it was Panagia) and she told me: “I won’t bring your brother back myself, but others will”, and she stretched out her hand and showed me a tall monk with a black beard and a dark (not black) raso who was holding something in his hand that shined. I was surprised and asked her: “Who is that, my Panagia?” and she replied: “It is St. Ephraim.” I had never heard his name before. I turned to St. Ephraim and told him: “My Saint Ephraim, bring back my brother, and whatever you ask from me I will bring you.” I assumed that because the object in his hand was shining, he wanted something gold, and so I told him: “Gold you want, my Saint? I will bring it to you, I will bring it to you when you bring back my brother.” Then immediately I heard a great sound and from the bowels of the earth, in a cloud of dust, appeared my brother G., full of dirt which he shook off with his hand. He was alive. Then I awoke from the dream which was like a nightmare, but strangely it didn’t scare me.
During the day I thought hard about this dream, and talking to my friends at the office, I learned about St. Ephraim and his monastery in Nea Makri. I discussed this with my family who live outside of Athens and we decided that at their first visit to Athens, we would all go together to this monastery. And this is what occurred. When we arrived at the monastery, there were so many people, but all of us felt an awe and peace in the nous which we will never forget. As soon as I saw the icon of St. Ephraim for the first time, I was struck, because this is how I saw him in my dream: tall, thin, with a dark raso and something which he held in his hand that shone. The second shock happened a few minutes later when from among the crowd, a priest asked me and my brother G. what made us come to St. Ephraim. I related my dream with feeling, and I asked him what I should give the Saint. Then the priest told me: “The Saint doesn’t want gold or silver, he wants you to honor him with your presence. From now on, your brother has St. Ephraim as a protector”, and looking at my brother, he crossed him with the oil of the Saint. He told us to call upon the name of the Saint in any of our difficult times, and he will protect us always. Since then we go to the monastery of St. Ephraim every year, and personally after that which I have experienced, I am sure that something there exists…”
The Saint helped me pass my Teaching Exams
I had written to you and asked you in my letter to pray to our Saint for me and my friend who were taking exams in January, that they would go well. Indeed, I had a lot of stress and fear and I had decided to not go to the final lessen and that I would quit and leave. However, something happened. One of our friends had brought holy oil from the church of St. Ephraim to Athens a few days back and we had it in our room. Furthermore, she gave us a small icon of the Saint. She didn’t give me an icon, but a book of St. Ephraim with His miracles. That day I smelled something strange, but beautiful.
A short time before the tests I decided in the end to go. I had a lot of stress and fear, however. I don’t know why. Before leaving the house, we crossed ourselves with the oil of our Saint and we sensed that the holy myrrh of our Saint was fragrant all day. Before I got to the University, I began to cry, because I was very stressed and because I was not very well prepared. I took with me, however, the book of St. Ephraim and I put it in front of me on my desk, and I asked Him to be with me. Immediately I felt peaceful. I did not feel stress or fear, I stopped crying, and I didn’t have any more headache. In reality, something strange had occurred. Immediately after they gave us the questions, I could tell that they were from that which I had studied! And I began to write, to write continually, as if someone were telling it to me.
I understook that the Saint was with me and having His book in front of me, I took greater courage. An overseer took my book automatically, because he thought that I had notes inside, but in the end he apologized for this.
Anyways, the next day I returned to my town and I had this hidden hope that the Saint would help me pass. And in reality, after two months the results were out and I had passed my teaching exams. And all of this I owe to St. Ephraim.
My son found peace and tranquility which no psychologist could give him
Holy Abess, bless.
I work in a regional hospital. Outside there is a small chapel of Spyridon. Because the faithful have filled it with icons of various Saints, the priest tried to hand them out to others. One of these icons I received; it was the icon of St. Ephraim, who was totally unknown to me. I was impressed that the icon smelled of incense for many hours. Then I thought to give It to my son who is a police officer. When my son saw the icon of St. Ephraim, he told me that His body is in Nea Makri. I decided that some day I would visit the monastery, but for various reasons, we never were able to make it.
After four years my son faced a very serious personal problem. We immediately headed to Athens and the next day we came to the monastery of St. Ephraim. My son said that the whole monastery smelled like incense. I didn’t experience this gift, neither did his father. My son would visit the Saint continuously and always would return home peaceful. Slowly he began to overcome his problem, with the great help which he received from St. Ephraim. In the meantime he had to take tests for promotion. Because of his problem, he couldn’t study his lessons. St. Ephraim, however, gave him some help. He took his tests two months later. Because he wrote well, he had a good result and his grades improved…
I thank St. Ephraim for this, for my oldest son near Him found peace and tranquility, which no psychologist could give him in such a short period of time. Furthermore I should say that when I came to our Saint I bought some books. One evening I read His paraklesis. Afterwards I went to sleep. Near 3:30AM I woke up and sensed that in the house incense was burning, as if someone had burned incense at that instant. I thank St. Ephraim very much, who came to my house and gave such a great honor to me who am such a sinner.
“You should go light a big candle!”
Holy Abbess, your blessing.
I wanted to thank St. Ephraim for the miracle which he worked for my husband. On October 18th 2001 my husband, 54 years old, suffered a heart attack. We brought him immediately to the hospital of K…When the doctors made the diagnosis, they said—it was Friday—that my husband wouldn’t pass the weekend, he would die. I was in the hospital, with my brother-in-law. Imagine that moment, the ground fell beneath my feet, I lost my whole world. I choked my pain and went into my husband’s room. He was in a terrible condition. Then, for an instant, my eye gazed upon an icon which was in the ICU. It was up high and I couldn’t reach it. I asked a girl to bring it down for me. I read: SAINT EPHRAIM. I took it in my arms and with tears in my eyes I said: “My Saint Ephraim, I don’t know who you are. It is the first time I’ve heard your name…” I entreated him with a lot of faith, me the sinner, to make my husband well.
After two hours, as I was in the hall crying so my husband wouldn’t understand anything, I see the doctor go again into my husband and after a short time come out again. As soon as he saw me crying, he said: “Why are you crying? I just saw your husband and he’s on the way up!”
My joy could not be described, because he was the one who said that my husband would die, for his heart was in very bad shape. Then I understood how St. Ephraim worked His miracle. From that day forward he started to recover, as the doctor said (without knowing that I entreated the Saint): “You should go light a big candle [in gratitude for your husband.]”
The evening of the same day, a woman came to see her brother who also had a heart attach. I saw her holding in her hands a book and I asked her what she was reading. She told me: “from St. Ephraim, do you want to read it?”. Then I understood how the Saint again sent me His message to get to know Him. “Tomorrow I will bring you holy oil to cross your husband with”, she said, as I related to her what had happened.
In ten days, my husband left the hospital. I glorified the Saint and told all my friends. Two months later, the doctors said that we should go to Athens for an angioplasty. I was in the hospital for eight to ten hours. It was the day before Christmas. In the waiting room a priest came to confess people. My husband—who had never gone to confession before—and I confessed. The next morning I woke up, and without knowing anything about Athens, I took a taxi to the monastery. I venerated and thanked the Saint, and I returned relieved.
After one year, my husband was found to have prostate cancer…We again traveled to Athens, but this time to the S. hospital. The doctors were afraid to do the surgery because of his heart. In the end he went to surgery with my signature (his chances were 50-50). The whole time I entreated Panagia and St. Ephraim. Everything went well. The surgery was a success. I thank the Saint.
He healed me of vertigo
My name is K. K. From a young age, for about nine to ten years, I suffered from terrible dizziness and vertigo. Five years ago I woke up, and like many times in my life, I experienced vertigo. It was 4AM and I said: “My Saint Ephraim, take away this dizziness, I can’t take it any more”, and then a miracle happened for me. It was the morning of May 5th. I didn’t know it was the feast of the Saint. From then on I was never bothered with dizziness and much less by vertigo. Whenever I call upon the name of the Saint, he takes away everything [bad] from me. I many times wanted to mention this event to you…
The Uncovering of the Holy Relics of St. Ephraim of Nea Makri
On January 3, 1950, Abbess Makaria (+ April 23, 1999) was wandering through the ruins of the newly re-formed monastery on Amomos Mountain, thinking of the martyrs whose bones had been scattered over that ground, and whose blood had watered the tree of Orthodoxy. She realized that this was a holy place, and she prayed that God would permit her to behold one of the Fathers who had lived there.
After some time, she seemed to sense an inner voice telling her to dig in a certain spot. She indicated the place to a workman whom she had hired to make repairs at the old monastery. The man was unwilling to dig there, for he wanted to dig somewhere else. Because the man was so insistent, Mother Makaria let him go where he wished. She prayed that the man would not be able to dig there, and so he struck rock. Although he tried to dig in three or four places, he met with the same results. Finally, he agreed to dig where the abbess had first indicated.
In the ruins of an old cell, he cleared away the rubble and began to dig in an angry manner. The abbess told him to slow down, for she did not want him to damage the body that she expected to find there. He mocked her because she expected to find the relics of a saint. When he reached the depth of six feet, however, he unearthed the head of the man of God. At that moment an ineffable fragrance filled the air. The workman turned pale and was unable to speak. Mother Makaria told him to go and leave her there by herself. She knelt and reverently kissed the body. As she cleared away more earth, she saw the sleeves of the saint’s rasson. The cloth was thick and appeared to have been woven on the loom of an earlier time. She uncovered the rest of the body and began to remove the bones, which appeared to be those of a martyr.
Mother Makaria was still in that holy place when evening fell, so she read the service of Vespers. Suddenly she heard footsteps coming from the grave, moving across the courtyard toward the door of the church. The footsteps were strong and steady, like those of a man of strong character. The nun was afraid to turn around and look, but then she heard a voice say, “How long are you going to leave me here?”
She saw a tall monk with small, round eyes, whose beard reached his chest. In his left hand was a bright light, and he gave a blessing with his right hand. Mother Makaria was filled with joy and her fear disappeared. “Forgive me,” she said, “I will take care of you tomorrow as soon as God makes the day dawn.” The saint disappeared, and the abbess continued to read Vespers.
In the morning after Matins, Mother Makaria cleaned the bones and placed them in a niche in the altar area of the church, lighting a candle before them. That night St Ephraim appeared to her in a dream. He thanked her for caring for his relics, then he said, “My name is St Ephraim.” From his own lips, she heard the story of his life and martyrdom.
Since St Ephraim glorified God in his life and by his death, the Lord granted him the grace of working miracles. Those who venerate his holy relics with faith and love have been healed of all kinds of illnesses and infirmities, and he is quick to answer the prayers of those who call upon him.”