from the Encyclical Principi Apostolorum Petrum
Pope Benedict XV (5 October 1920)
4. However We, who embrace the Eastern Church with no less solicitude and charity than our predecessors, truly rejoice, now that the frightful war is ended. We rejoice that many in the Eastern community have achieved liberty and wrested their holy things from the control of the laity. They are now striving to set the nation in order, consistent with the character of its people and the established customs of their ancestors. We propose, appropriately, a splendid example of sanctity, learning, and paternal love for them to diligently imitate and nurture. We speak of St. Ephrem the Syrian, whom Gregory of Nyssa compared to the River Euphrates because he "irrigated by his waters the Christian community to bring forth fruits of faith ahundred-fold."13 We speak of Ephrem, whom all the inspired orthodox Fathers and Doctors, including Basil, Chrysostom, Jerome, Francis of Sales, and Alphonsus Liguori, praise. We are pleased to join these heralds of truth, who though separated from each other in talent, in time and place, nevertheless perfect a harmony modulated by "one and the same spirit." . . .
10. The testament he left for his fellow citizens - memorable for its faith, humility, and singular patriotism - reads as follows. "I, Ephrem, am dying. With fear, but also with reverence, I entreat you, citizens of Edessa, not to bury me under the altar or elsewhere in the house of God. It is not fitting that a worm teeming with corruption be buried in the temple and sanctuary of God. But lay me out in the tunic and mantle which I used and wore daily. Accompany me with psalms and prayers. I had neither pouch nor staff, neither wallet nor silver and gold; nor did I ever acquire or possess anything else earthly. Work diligently at my precepts and doctrines; as my disciples, do not fall away from the Catholic faith. With regard to the faith, be especially constant. Guard against adversaries - I mean evildoers, boasters, and tempters to sin. And may your city be blessed; for Edessa is the city and mother of the wise." And so Ephrem died, but his memory lives on, to the blessing of the Church Universal. Therefore when his name began to be mentioned in the sacred liturgy, Gregory of Nyssa could say: "The splendor of his doctrine and life illumined all the earth, for he is known in almost every place where the sun shines."