Tuesday, September 1, 2009

St. Symeon the Stylite

St. Symeon the Stylite - Commemorated on September 1 (taken from: http://christopherklitou.com/icon_1_sept_symeon_the_stylite.htm)

"Saint Simeon the Stylite was born in the Cappadocian village of Sisan of Christian parents, Sisotian and Martha. At thirteen years of age he began to tend his father's flock of sheep. He devoted himself attentively and with love to this, his first obedience.
Once, after he heard the Beatitudes in church, he was struck by their profundity. Not trusting to his own immature judgment, he turned therefore with his questions to an experienced Elder. The Elder readily explained to the boy the meaning of what he had heard. The seed fell on good soil, and it strengthened his resolve to serve God.
When Simeon was eighteen, he received monastic tonsure and devoted himself to feats of the strictest abstinence and unceasing prayer. His zeal, beyond the strength of the other monastic brethren, so alarmed the igumen that he told Simeon that to either moderate his ascetic deeds or leave the monastery.
St Simeon then withdrew from the monastery and lived in an empty well in the nearby mountains, where he was able to carry out his austere struggles unhindered. After some time, angels appeared in a dream to the igumen, who commanded him to bring back Simeon to the monastery.
The monk, however, did not long remain at the monastery. After a short while he settled into a stony cave, situated not far from the village of Galanissa, and he dwelt there for three years, all the while perfecting himself in monastic feats. Once, he decided to spent the entire forty days of Great Lent without food or drink. With the help of God, the monk endured this strict fast. From that time he abstained from food completely during the entire period of the Great Lent, even from bread and water. For twenty days he prayed while standing, and for twenty days while sitting, so as not to permit the corporeal powers to relax." (taken from: http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?SID=4&ID=1&FSID=102448)
The remains of St. Symeon's Pillar, as it appears today in Syria (taken from: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/01/Column_of_Simeon_Syria.jpg)
"After trying various kinds of ascetical practices, both in the monastery and then in the wilderness, he began standing on pillars of progressively greater height, and heroically persevered in this for more than forty years; the greater part of this time he spent standing upright, even when one of his feet became gangrenous, and other parts of his body gave way under the strain. He did not adopt this strange way of life out of vainglory, a charge that some of his contemporaries made against him at the first: because he was already famous for his asceticism and holiness before ascending his first pillar (in Greek, style, whence he is called "Stylite"), many pious people came to him wishing to touch his garments, either for healing or for a blessing; to escape the continual vexation they caused, he made a pillar about ten feet high, and then higher and higher, until the fourth and last was about fifty feet high. The Church historian Theodoret of Cyrrhus, an eyewitness of his exploits who wrote of him while Symeon was yet alive, called him "the great wonder of the world." God gave him the grace to persevere in such an astonishing form of asceticism that multitudes came to see him from Persia, Armenia, South Arabia, Georgia, Thrace, Spain, Italy, Gaul, and the British Isles. Theodoret says that he became so famous in Rome that the Nomadic Arabs by the thousands believed in Christ and were baptized because of him; the King of Persia sent envoys to inquire into his way of life, and the Queen asked to be sent oil that he had blessed. He also was a great defender of sound doctrine, and confirmed the Orthodoxy of the Holy Council of Chalcedon for many who had been beguiled by the teachings of the Monophysites, including the Empress Eudocia, widow of Theodosius the Younger. After a life of unheard-of achievements and struggles, he reposed in peace at the age of sixty-nine, in the year 459."
(taken from: http://goarch.org/chapel/saints_view?contentid=646)
"The first one to learn of the death of the saint was his close disciple Anthony. Concerned that his teacher had not appeared to the people for three days, he went up on the pillar and found the dead body stooped over at prayer. Patriarch Martyrius of Antioch performed the funeral before a huge throng of clergy and people. They buried him near his pillar. At the place of his ascetic deeds, Anthony established a monastery, upon which rested the special blessing of St Simeon.
We pray to St Simeon for the return to the Church of those who have forsaken Her, or have been separated from Her."
(taken from: http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?SID=4&ID=1&FSID=102448)

16th Century icon of St. Symeon the Stylite. The body below is the mother of St. Symeon (St. Martha, commemorated on July 4th) "On two occasions his mother Martha came to see him, but he refused to receive her, saying from atop the pillar: ``Do not disturb me now, my mother. If we become worthy, then we'll see each other in the next world.'' (http://www.westsrbdio.org/prolog/prolog.htm; icon from: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/46/MHS_Szymon_Slupnik_XVI_w_Kostarowce_p.jpg)
for Saint Simeon the Stylite
(by St. Nikolai Velimirovich)
Simeon the Stylite, the first of the pillar-dwellers,
An illuminated elder, with the radiance of an immortal,
Bound himself to the pillar as a willing sacrifice;
He was fully alive to heaven, and dead to the earth.
Fasting and prayer and all-night vigils-
By this hard path he sought salvation.
Early one morning, his mother came by:
``O Son, come down and let your mother see you!''
Thus she spoke, but Simeon was silent.
The mother repeated her plea again and again….
Simeon at last replied to his mother:
``I am in the service of the Heavenly King.
This life is a struggle and a preparation.
There is no time for empty conversation here.
But go, Mother, and choose the pure path-
Take care for your soul and live according to Christ!
After the present struggle is the next world;
If Christ finds us worthy,
You will see your son there, Mother,
And your son will delight in his mother's face.''

We should use all that is necessary in this world for the cultivation of our souls, for when death separates us from this world we will take nothing to the other world except our souls, in whatever state they have been formed here. When he was eighteen, St. Simeon the Stylite was so concerned about the salvation of his soul that one day he fell face down on the earth and prayed to God that He would show him the path of salvation. And lying thus in prayer for a long time, he had a vision that he was digging a trench for a foundation and, exhausted from digging, stopped to catch his breath. A voice spoke to him, saying: ``Dig deeper!'' Then he began, with greater labor and effort, to dig yet deeper. Again he stopped to catch his breath. But again he heard the voice: ``Dig deeper!'' He again began to dig, with even greater labor and effort. At this the voice spoke to him again: ``Stop, it is sufficient! Now build what you wish to build; for without labor, you will succeed in nothing.'' Those who labor little, and build the life of their soul on sensual shallowness, build on sand, which cannot uphold anything, even in this transitory world-and even more so in eternity.

Icon of Sts. Symeon the Stylite and Genevieve of Paris from her tomb in Paris (taken from: http://orthodoxwiki.org/images/0/0a/Gen_tombicon.jpg)
"[St. Geneviève of Paris] made many pilgrimages in the company of other maidens to the shrine of Saint Martin of Tours. Her reputation for sanctity was so great that it reached as far away as Syria, to St. Simeon the Stylite. This holy old woman once received a delegation from St. Simeon, who learned of her greatness during prayers and sent visitors to her with words of greeting, asking for her prayers for his salvation."
(taken from: http://www.allsaintsbrookline.org/celtic_saints/genevieve.html)
"In St. Genevieve, we find that it was a weak woman who stopped Attila the Hun, the same Attila before whom the great warriors and governors of the empire trembled. And it was to this woman, out of all the theologians and clergy in France, that St. Simeon the Stylite sent a greeting from his pillar in Syria. His greeting to her is recorded in all the variants of the Life of St. Genevieve, but not in those of St. Simeon the Stylite. Why? Because he was the greatest contemporary figure of eastern monasticism, and she was still an unknown anchorite. Hers was one of tens of thousands of blessings he gave to those who sought him out, but, of course, it was important to St. Genevieve – as important as if we had received a blessing from one of the Optina elders. Certainly, our children, our grandchildren and our great grand-children would remember this."
(taken from: http://www.roadtoemmaus.net/back_issue_articles/RTE_25/A_CITY_OF_SAINTS.pdf)
Icon of St. Symeon the Stylite (Icon courtesy of www.eikonografos.com used with permission)

Apolytikion in the First Tone
Thou becamest a pillar of patience and didst emulate the Forefathers, O righteous one: Job in his sufferings, Joseph in temptations, and the life of the bodiless while in the body, O Symeon, our righteous Father, intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.

Kontakion in the Second Tone
Thou soughtest the heights, though parted not from things below; thy pillar became a chariot of fire for thee. Thou becamest thereby a true companion of the angelic host; and together with them, O Saint, thou ceaselessly prayest Christ God for us all.

Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!


Lucky Archer - Λάκης Βελώτρης said...

Are you also going to make homeless and assylum lunatics saints? The freak spent decades on top of a pole! Any priest who condones such behavior is endangering the sanity of minors! No wonder you refuse to see the absence of the emperor's missing clothes and keep falling for tyanny.

Agioi_Anargyroi said...

First of all, as I've mentioned, I'm not a priest. I'm a lay person, and for the most part I only post and translate the lives of the Saints and the writings of the Fathers. So these are mostly the actions and words of the Holy Fathers, not me.

Second, specifically St. Symeon was 18 years old when he left to become a monk. Thus he would even be considered an adult by today's standards. In today's culture where many consider it normal and healthy for young adults to experiment with smoking, drugs, sex, destructive activities, where our young people can leave for war, why is considered folly to suffer for virtue, for Truth, for Life, for Christ?

Neither I nor the Fathers of the Church imply that everyone should go out and live on a pillar. We each can do what is in our strength and with the blessings of our Spiritual Fathers for the love of Christ, Who loved us and gave Himself for us. (Gal. 2:20)

"For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (St. Paul the Apostle in 1st Corinthians 1:22-24)

Unknown said...

Interesting. It must have taken a lot of energy to stay on that pole! Thanks for the post:)

Unknown said...

By the grace of God+ He's our hero and saint!

Unknown said...

By the grace of God+ He's our hero and saint!