Ephrem of Syria was born about 306 in Nisibis, Syria, and was baptized Christian in 324. After he was ordained a deacon he was the leader at a cathedral school. When the Persians captured Nisibis in 363, Ephrem and thousands of other refugees fled. He lived an acetic life as a monk in a cave, praying, fasting, and studying holy scripture.
While Ephrem lived in this remote location he composed countless hymns
(between four and five hundred songs and hymns still exist), poetic
sermons, and other theological writings, all based on scripture. Some
called him "the Harp of the Holy Spirit."
One of the prayers attributed to him:
Lord and Master of my life,
keep from me the spirit of indifference and discouragement,
lust of power and idle chatter.
Instead, grant to me,
the spirit of wholeness of being, humble-mindedness, patience, and love.
O Lord and King,
grant me the grace to be aware of my sins
and not to judge my brother;
for You are blessed now and ever and forever.
In 373 in the last months of his life, Ephrem organized a relief effort
for famine relief in the Edessa area. He died a month later. Ephrem is the patron saint of spiritual directors and spiritual