The Icon on the front of this Website depicts the Funeral of St. Ephrem of Syria and all the monks of the desert rushing to it. Some of them are old and lame and have to be carried by others or use crutches. The baby held aloft by the angel represents St. Ephrem's innocent soul. In the background one can see a monk hammering a long plank of wood. This instrument is called a "talanton" or a "simantron" and is used to call monks to prayer. It is hit with a certain rhythm "to ta-lan-ton to-ta-lan-ton to-ta-to-ta-to-talanton". Talanton is Greek for Talent. Another rhythm used is "o ad-am o-ad-am o pro-to-plast-is o ad-am" (Adam, First-created Adam). It is said that the simandron was first used by Noah to call the animals into the ark. It is still widely used in Orthodox monasteries today.
The original icon was painted by Cassiani the Nun, a sister of
the Monastery of the Annunciation (Evangelismos) on the Holy Isle
of Patmos. It can be found in the small chapel dedicated to St.
Ephrem at the skete called Couvari on the island of Patmos. A
very interesting little book on the Hermits and the Hermitages of
Patmos is being printed at this very moment. It will be available
at the beginning of May from:
GR 85 500,
The icon of the Theotokos and Virgin is from:
The Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration,
#1, Box 184x,
Ellwood City, PA 16117.