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Ephraim the Syrian

Ephraim the Syrian (also spelled "Ephrem" or "Ephraem", and sometimes suffixed "of Edessa") (c.306 - 373) was a Christian deacon, monk and hymn writer. He was born in Nisibis, a town in Mesopotamia.

It is said that he accompanied his bishop to the First Council of Nicaea in 325. Throughout his life, he fought against Gnosticism and Arianism. To counter the Gnostic heresies being spread through their songs, he wrote many hymns and poems proclaiming the Christian faith. One of his prayers is still extensively used today by Eastern Orthodox churches during the season of Great Lent leading up to Easter:

O Lord and Master of my life, do not give me the spirit of laziness, meddling, self-importance and idle talk.
Instead, grace me, Your servant, with the spirit of modesty, humility, patience, and love.
Indeed, my Lord and King, grant that I may see my own faults, and not condemn my brothers and sisters, for You are blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.

During a famine in 372 and 373, he worked long hours distributing food and caring for the sick; this hard work led to his death on June 10, 373. He is recognized as a saint by both the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox churches. In 1920 the Holy See declared him a Doctor of the Church.

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