Today the Church honors a Deacon, hymnwriter, poet, and foundational theologian, 4th Century Ephrem of Edessa.
Syrian Christianity is one of the most ancient strains of the faith. Lore has it that Thaddeus of Edessa was one of the seventy sent out by Jesus (Luke 10), and he planted the seeds for Orthodox Christianity in the region. We have no proof of this, of course, and it may be the case that Thaddeus himself is entirely fictional, a pragmatic hagiography used to explain the origins of such an important branch of Christianity.
Whether or not this is true, though, Syrian Christianity was started early, and Ephrem was born a Christian in the early 300’s, and was a student of James, Bishop of Nisibis.
From there he became head of a successful theological school at Edessa, and began writing biblical commentaries, essays on dogma, biographies, historical records, homilies, and early Christian hymns that have remained a part of the Syrian Orthodox liturgy.
Syrians refer to Ephrem as “the harp of the Holy Spirit.”
Ephrem is a reminder to the whole church that Diaconal leaders have, since the early formation of the faith, influenced and guided the faithful all over the world.
Indeed, through our Deacons (and in many traditions, Deaconesses), the church continues to have many “harps of the Holy Spirit.”
-historical notes gleaned from Pfatteicher’s “New Book of Festivals & Commemorations”