Mar Aprem Suraya
(St. Ephraim The Syrian)

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Mar Aprem Suraya
(St. Ephraim The Syrian)

Mar Aprem Suraya (St. Ephraim the Syrian) is one of the great Eastern fathers of the Church, a teacher of repentance. This shining star of the Church appeared in the East in far-off Nisibin, in Mesopotamia, about the year 306.

According to the legend of his Syrian biography, Mar Aprem was the son of pious parents, although later autobiographers write that his father was a pagan priest. At a young age, Mar Aprem retired to the mountains and became a hermit. Mar Yakub (Bishop Jacob Nisibian) who led ascetic life, stood out among the hermits. Monk Aprem became one of his disciples. Mar Yakub knew the high virtues of his disciple and used them for the benefit of the Church commissioning him to read sermon and taking him to the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea. Mar Aprem was in obedience to Mar Yakub until his death.

After the capture of Nisibin by the Persians in 363, Mar Aprem left the desert and settled in a monastery near the city of Edessa. Here he saw many great ascetics who spent their lives in prayer and singing Psalms. The caves were their only refuge and they ate only plants.

Mar Aprem constantly studied the Word of God. The Lord gave him the gift of teaching and those people who wanted to hear his wise advice began to come to him, which especially affected souls because he began it with self-reproach. The monk taught everyone repentance, faith, and piety by power of word as well as in written form. Pagans, listening to the sermons of the monk, converted to Christianity. He also worked hard in interpreting the Holy Scriptures.

High-value writings of Mar Aprem, the number of which extends to 1000, not counting prayers and hymns, which are characterized by mystical and poetic beauty, enriched the Church Service. Among them are known prayers to the Holy Trinity, the Son of God, the prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary. His penitential prayer "Lord - Lord of my life" is recited during Lent and calls Christians to spiritual renewal. Mar Aprem wrote in Syrian, but his works were very early translated into Greek and from Greek into Latin and other languages. In the writings of Mar Aprem himself, one can see a good acquaintance with the works of not only Christian scientists, but also with the "Hellenic wisdom", with pagan mythology and the beginnings of natural science at that time. The monk spent his last years in a cave near Edessa. Mar Aprem died in 373 in the rank of deacon.

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