Elder Ephraim of Philotheou
Elder Ephraim was born in 1927 in Volos, Greece, originally with the name John, and the boy spent his childhood in poverty, helping his father at his work, but always following the pious example of his mother. At the age of 14 he began to yearn for monasticism, but it was not until he was 19 that his spiritual father gave him a blessing to go to Mount Athos. On his arrival there, he went straight to Elder Joseph, who accepted him into his brotherhood, and tonsured him nine months later, in 1948, with the name Ephraim. Out of obedience to his elder, Fr Ephraim was ordained a deacon and subsequently a priest. After Elder Joseph's repose in 1959, people aspiring to strict monasticism began gathering around Elder Ephraim, who himself was acquiring a reputation as a discerning spiritual guide. As his community grew, they moved to Provata, where there was a larger building, but this also soon proved too small. Then, in 1973, he was asked by the Supervisors of the Holy Mountain to move his brotherhood into the Holy Monastery of Philotheou and become its abbot. Because of his growing fame as an elder with great spiritual discernment, Philotheou became so full that the Supervisors of the Holy Mountain asked him to send groups of his disciples to repopulate three other monasteries on the Mountain: Xeropotamou, Konstamonitou, and Karakallou. He was also asked to repopulate the Great Lavra, but declined. In the second volume of his works, Life in the Spirit, Elder Aimilianos, Abbot of the Holy Monastery of Simonos Petras, describes the monk as an apostle who must be ready, at any moment, to be told: 'Get up from here and go there. Leave this and do that.' Elder Ephraim clearly fulfils this ideal, for in 1979 he made a brief visit to Canada and the United States, where he realized that it was God's will for him to return. Since then he has made annual trips to the North America and most of his time is spent travelling to Greek Orthodox Churches in various cities across the two countries. His spiritual children now number tens of thousands: lay people, monastics, and priests. He continued to be the spiritual father of his monasteries on Mount Athos and eight women's monasteries throughout Greece, but since it became impractical to continue as Abbot of Philotheou because of his extended absences in North America, he resigned in 1990 and left a disciple of his to assume the monastery's responsibilities.
Voice of our beloved Elder Ephraim praying: "Jesus Christ, have mercy on me", or "Most Holy Theotokos, save us":