St. Ephrem is the only Syrian recognized as a Doctor of the Church (Cosma and Damian were doctors, born in Arabia, who practiced in Syria).
You could say he was one of the first “rock stars” of the church as well. Born in the city of Nisibis, he became a Christian early in his life. He was celebrated as a great teacher.
When the Persians took possession of his town, he became a refugee and established a renowned biblical school in Edessa and lived a simple life. He became a deacon but never accepted holy orders to the priesthood.
It is said that Ephrem was not a great scholar, but his writing revealed a deep understanding of the scriptures. His approach was realistic and sympathetic. In fact, experts believe his description of the Last Judgement inspired the great Italian poet Dante Alighieri.
Now, about that “rock-star” business: Ephrem was one of the first to introduce songs into the public worship as a way of teaching the faithful. He had a knack for taking songs popular among the heretics of his day, rewriting the text and creating hymns that included orthodox doctrine. For his great success and popularity, he earned the title of “Harp of the Holy Spirit.”
Adapted by A.J. Valentini from www.franciscanmedia.org