A message for bibliophiles everywhere

“Let books be your dining table,
And you shall be full of delights.
Let them be your mattress,
And you shall sleep restful nights.”
-St. Ephraim the Syrian

St. Ephraim the Syrian was a Syriac deacon and a prolific Syriac-language hymnographer and theologian of the 4th century based in the Syrian intellectual center of Nisibis. Christians throughout the world hail the theological depth and beauty of his works and many Churches, including the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern and Roman Catholic, and Anglican, venerate him as a saint.

St. Ephraim was born in Syria in 306 during the reign of Emperor Constantine the Great. He had a troubled youth, but following a spiritual crisis he experienced a deep conversion to Christ. He became a disciple of St. James of Nisibis. Working tirelessly teaching the monks in the monastery as well as the people of Edessa, he wrote many books. His prayers of repentance are heart rendering and instructive. His most famous prayer is used especially during Great Lent: “O Lord and Master of my life …”. When the people wanted to make him bishop, he feigned madness and ran through the city naked, trailing his clothes behind him. They then left him in peace to continue his writings and meditations. St. Ephraim was a close friend of St. Basil the Great. He reposed in the Lord as an old man in 373.

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