A very important artifact for Oriental Orthodox Christians
From my readings, I knew that St. Ephrem was buried in an Armenian monastery and that it had been moved somewhere in the Iconoclasm* period. I wasn’t aware where it had been moved though.
While I was exploring the major monasteries in Wadi Natrun, I was amazed to find an artifact at the Syrian Monastery which answered my doubt on the tomb of St. Ephrem.
The box shown in the image is known as the Relics Box along with a Relics Tube brought by Bishop Gregory of Armenia to the Church of Alexandria in A. D. 1087 This was brought in order to protect the Holy Relics and Icons inside the box and the major relics of St. Ephrem from the after effects of the Iconoclasm which continued even after the 7th Council. Bishop Gregory chose syrian monastery because the relics were more important to Syrians.
The Relics Tube held major relics of St. Ephrem the Syrian and the box held the relics of many Syrian saints and the relics of St. Mary Magdalene, St. Theodore, St. John the Baptist etc. Majority of the relics of St. Ephrem were kept in the Syrian Monastery and the rest were moved to many churches by Pope Cyril V across Egypt in 1922.
I’m thankful to Abouna/Fr. Gregorios at the Syrian Monastery, Wadi Natrun for showing me around and I look forward to explore more.
* An opposition movement to the veneration of Icons and also against venerating Saints and their relics in certain parts of the Middle East.
– Rijo Geevarghese