Thursday, June 25, 2015

St. Ephraim of Nea Makri, and the Repose of Photios Kontoglou (+1965)

The prototype icon of St. Ephraim of Nea Makri, painted by the famed iconographer of the 20th century Photios Kontoglou (+1965). He was asked to paint the Saint's icon, and thus prayed to the Saint to enlighten him to depict his form. The Saint appeared to him, and Kontoglou's icon later became the inspiration for all other icons of St. Ephraim (source)
Photios Kontoglou was born in Aivali of Asia Minor on November 8th 1895, and reposed in Athens on July 13th, 1965. The following event occurred at the last moments of his life in the hospital, and the wondrous appearance of St. Ephraim the Wonderworker to his wife.

The ever-memorable Photios Kontoglou was enduring difficult days in the hospital, and his wife, Maria Kontoglou, was kneeling and praying for his healing, calling upon our great St. Ephraim. Let us not forget that the sanctified hand of this grace-bestowing iconographer had fashioned the first icon of our Saint! Maria Kontoglou was awaiting something from the Saint.
Detail from the first icon of St. Ephraim, by Photios Kontoglou (source)

Another copy of the icon (source)
And what greater help could she expect from him, for at that exact hour when she was praying, she saw the soul of Photios Kontoglou being held by St. Ephraim, who was leading him to Heaven with great glory!

She was astonished to see all of this! What did this mean? At that hour, her question was solved, when she received a phone call from the hospital, which informed her that her husband was ascending weightlessly to Heaven! In reality, the Saint was his guide!

(amateur translation of text from source, from the book "Visions and Miracles of the Holy Greatmartyr Ephraim the Wonderworker - 3rd Volume, published by the Holy Monastery of the Theotokos of Mount Amomon)
The tomb of Photios Kontoglou, in the courtyard of the Monastery of St. Ephraim of Nea Makri. Of note, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the repose of this most blessed and influential iconographer, one of the greatest masters of Byzantine art and a true Christian (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

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