Chapter I
(Another account of this Life in Book IX.xxvi)
The holy Simeon was chosen by God from his mother's womb and sought how to
please and obey him. His father was called Sufocion, and had no other education
than that supplied by his parents. At the age of thirteen he saw a church one day as
he was feeding his father's sheep. He left his sheep and went inside where, after
hearing the Apostle being read, he approached one of the elders.
"What was the meaning of that which was being read?" he asked.
"It was about the underlying reality (substantia) of the soul," replied the old man,
"and how a human being may learn to fear the Lord with all his heart and with all his
mind" (Luke 10.27).
"What does fearing God mean?"
"Why are you asking me such serious questions?"
"I am seeking through you for an answer from God. I want to learn about the things I
was listening to, because I am ignorant and unlearned."
"If you fast continually, offer prayer moment by moment, humble yourself before all
other human beings, renounce attachment to money, parents, clothing or
possessions, but nevertheless honour your father and mother and the priests of God,
you will inherit the eternal kingdom. And on the contrary, if you do not keep these
things you will inherit the outer darkness which God has prepared for the devil and all
his angels (Matthew 22.13 & 25.30). All these things, my son, are fully lived out in
At these words Simeon fell at his feet.
"You are my father and mother," he said, "teacher of everything good, and a guide to
the kingdom of heaven. You have won over my soul, which before was on the way to
perdition. May the Lord reward you for the change wrought in my soul. I shall do as
you say and go to a monastery, if God wills, and may his will be done in me."
"My son, before you go off to a monastery, listen carefully to what I say. You will find
tribulation, you will have to serve and keep vigil in nakedness, and undergo unknown
evils before finding consolation as a precious vessel of God."

Chapter II
The blessed Simeon left the church and went straight away to the monastery of that
magnificent man, the holy Timothy. He lay for five days outside the monastery,
neither eating nor drinking. On the fifth day abba Timothy went out to him.
"Where are you from, my son? And who are your parents, that have driven you to
this? What is your name? Perhaps you have committed some crime, or you are a
slave running away from your master?"
"Nothing like that at all, sir. I want only to be God's slave, if he wills it so, and save
my soul from perdition. Let me be admitted into the monastery to be a servant of all.
Don't leave me outside any longer."
The abbot took him by the hand and led him inside.
"My sons," he said to the brothers, "see, I am giving you this brother. Teach him all
the rules of the monastery."
He spent four months obedient to all without complaint, during which time he learnt
the Psalter by heart, and daily received divine nourishment. The food which he was
given along with the brothers he secretly gave to the poor without a thought for the
morrow, for whereas the brothers ate every evening, he ate only once a week.

Chapter III
He went one day to the well to draw water, and took the rope from the wellhead,
which the brothers used for drawing water and wound it round his body next to his
skin, from his loins up to his neck. He went inside and told the brothers that he could
not find the rope at the wellhead when he went to the well.
"Hush, brother," they said, "the abbot will deal with that in due course."
His body became infected because of the weight and roughness of the rope, which
was cutting him to the bone. It buried itself into his flesh, as soon became apparent.
For one day the brothers went out and caught him giving his food to the poor. They
came back in and told the abbot.
"Where ever did you get this person from?" they asked him. "We can't abstain from
food as he does. He fasts from one Sunday to the next, and gives his food to the
poor, and there is a most horrible stink coming from his body which is more than
anyone can bear. Maggots fall off him as he walks along. His bed is full of maggots."
The abbot immediately went and found it was all just as they had said.
"My son," he said to Simeon, "what is all this the brothers have been telling me
about you? Isn't it enough for you to fast in the same measure as the rest of us do?
Haven't you heard the Gospel telling us that the disciple is not above his master, and
everyone is made perfect if he does as his teacher does? (Matthew10.24-25) And tell
me, my son, what is the reason for this stink which comes from your body?"
The blessed Simeon just stood there, saying nothing.
The abbot was angry, and ordered him to strip, and discovered the rope round his
body covering everything except his head.
"However did this person come to us?" he cried, "overturning all the rules of the
monastery? I am telling you now, you will have to leave us, and go wherever you
But with great care and difficulty they removed the rope from his body together with
his rotten flesh, and looked after him for many days until he was cured.

Chapter IV
Once cured, he left the monastery without telling anybody and went to an
abandoned, dried up water hole, not far from the monastery, which was infested with
unclean spirits. And that same night the abbot was shown a troop of demons
surrounding the monastery with swords and cudgels, shouting, "Timothy, give us
Simeon the servant of God. If not, we will burn the monastery down and you with it,
for you have done an injury to that just man."
When he woke up he called the brothers and told them that he had seen a vision and
was very worried about it. On another night he saw a crowd of strong men standing
around him and crying, "Give us Simeon, the servant of God, for he is beloved of God
and the Angels. Why have you punished him?  He is greater in the sight of God than
you are, and all the Angels of God grieve for him, for God intends to do many signs
through him in this world such as nobody else has ever done."
In great fear, the abbot called the brothers together.
"Search out that man and bring him back here, lest we all die because of him. Truly
he is a saint of God. I have seen and heard great things of him."
All the monks went out looking for him, searching everywhere and not finding him.
They came back and reported to the abbot.
"There is nowhere left where we have not searched, unless perhaps he is near that
deserted waterhole."
"I am asking you, brothers, to look there for him, and I will go with you. He is truly a
saint and servant of God."
He chose five of them to go with him to the waterhole. Saying a prayer he went down
into it with the brothers. When the blessed Simeon saw them coming he began to
speak to them.
"Servants of God, I beg you, leave me in peace for an hour, that I may refresh my
spirit which is somewhat disturbed as yet. My soul is greatly troubled, for I have
offended God."
"Come, servant of God," said the abbot, "let us take you back to the monastery. For I
now know that you are a servant of God."
He did not want to go, but they took him by force back to the monastery, where
everyone prostrated themselves at his feet in tears.
"We have sinned against you, servant of God," they said. "Forgive us."
"Why are you making the burden on this unhappy sinner even greater?" Simeon said
with a deep sigh. "It is you who are our fathers and servants of God."
But he stayed with them for a further year.

Chapter V
He left without telling anyone, and went to a place not far from the monastery where
he built a little cell of dry stone walling. He stayed there for three years, and many
people sought him out to ask for his prayers. Then he built a little column four cubits
high, on which he lived for four years. As his holy reputation spread throughout the
world, the pressure of people caused him to make a column twelve cubits high, on
which he lived for twelve years. They then made him a column twenty cubits high, on
which he lived for a further twelve years. All the people who had gathered there then
built two basilicas near him and built another column for him thirty cubits high. where
he lived for four years and began to perform miracles. He cured many people who
came to him with diseases or demons, and restored sight to the blind. Withered
hands were restored to health, the deaf heard and lepers were cleansed. He
persuaded many people to embrace the  Christian faith, Saracens, Persians, Armaceni
and Laoti. Allophyli likewise heard about him and his powers, and came to bow down
before him.

Chapter VI
The devil in his envy then changed himself into the likeness of an Angel and
appeared in splendour in a fiery chariot with horses of fire, next to the column where
the blessed Simeon was standing. Simeon too was lit up with a fiery splendour like
an Angel.
"Simeon," said the devil in dulcet tones, "Listen to the word which the Lord has
charged me to bring you. For he has sent me, his Angel, with fiery chariot and horses,
to catch you up as once I caught up Elijah (2 Kings  2.11).  The time has come for
you likewise to step up into this chariot which the Lord of heaven and earth has sent.
Let us go likewise into heaven that you may be seen by Angels and Archangels and
Mary the mother of the Lord, with Apostles and Martyrs, Confessors and Prophets,
where you may speak with the Lord who created you in his image. That is all. Come
up without delay." "Lord," said Simeon, "Do you really want to take me, a sinner, up
to heaven?"
He lifted his right foot to go up into the chariot and with his right hand made the
sign of the cross. Suddenly the devil was nowhere to be seen. He vanished along
with his persuasiveness like dust before the face of the wind, so that Simeon was
then sure it was the devil.

Chapter VII
When he came to himself he said to his foot, "Don't come back down, but stay like
that until my death, until the Lord summons me, sinner that I am."
Meanwhile the devil had coolly wounded him in the thigh, which became infected with
a horde of maggots which scattered out of his body and wriggled about at his feet on
the column, and from thence fell down to the ground. It was a certain youth called
Antony, his assistant, who witnessed this and wrote it down. Simeon told him to
collect the maggots which had fallen and bring them up to him. And he put them back
into his wound as Job did. "Eat what the Lord gives you," he said to the maggots.

Chapter VIII
Basilicus, king of the Saracens, heard about him and came to visit him. As he looked
up at him a maggot fell from Simeon's body as he stood in prayer. The king ran to
pick it up and in act of faith held it above his eyes.
"Why do that, your majesty?" said Simeon when he saw what the king was doing. "It
makes me feel guilty, for the maggot had fallen out of my putrid body."
At these words the king opened his hand and found a most precious pearl in it.
"This is no putrid maggot," he said, "but a most precious pearl."
"It is given to you as a human being according to your faith," said Simeon. "May it be
blessed in your hands all the days of your life."
And that man of faith withdrew inside.

Chapter IX
Quite a long time after this his mother heard where he was and came to visit him,
but he would not let her see him, for women were forbidden to enter that place.
"Just wait for a little while," said Simeon, when he heard her voice, "and we shall see
each other, God willing."
She began to weep when she heard his voice, and loosed her hair and besought him
"My son, why have you done this? As a reward for carrying you in my womb, you have
filled me with grief. For the milk with which I fed you, you have given me tears. For
the kisses that I showered on you, you have given me bitter pains in my heart. For
the pain and labour that I suffered for you, you have given me the most painful
She spoke so feelingly that we all wept.
As Simeon listened to the voice of his mother he buried his face in his hands and
wept bitterly.
"Dear Mother," he said, "Be at peace for a little while, and we shall see each other in
the place of eternal rest."
"In the name of Christ who formed you, if there is a possibility of seeing you as a
sort of stranger in that great time, why not let me see you now? Or if not, now that I
have heard your voice, let me die at once, for your father has already died from
grieving for you. Don't leave me any longer in this state of bitterness, my son."
In weeping and wailing she went into a state of trance, and continued her pleadings
to him for three days and three nights. Simeon then prayed to the Lord and she
straightway gave up he spirit. They picked up her body and brought it to where he
could see it.
"May the Lord receive you into his joy," said Simeon, weeping, "for you have been
greatly troubled on my behalf. You carried me in your womb for nine months, you fed
me with your milk, and worked hard in caring for me."
As he said this, we all noticed drops of sweat appearing on his mother's brow and we
saw her body move. Simeon lifted up his eyes to heaven.
"O Lord God of power," he cried, " you sit among the Cherubim, and see into the
depths of the pit, you knew Adam before he existed, you have promised the riches of
the kingdom of heaven to those who love you, you spoke to Moses in the burning
bush, you gave your blessing to Abraham our father, you lead the souls of the
righteous into paradise and the souls of the wicked into perdition, you tamed the two
lions (Daniel 6.22) and saved your servants from the fiery furnace of the Babylonians
(ibid. 3.28), You sent the ravens to feed Elijah (1 Kings 17.6), receive now her soul in
peace and place her among the holy fathers, for yours is the power unto the ages of

Chapter X
It was after this that they built him a bigger column forty cubits high on which he
stood for sixteen years until his death. During this time a huge wild beast (draco)
was living near him in the region of Aquilo, and preventing the grass from growing. A
piece of wood had damaged his right eye so that he cold no longer see out of it. He
came one day to the area where the man of God lived, writhing itself into
complicated coils as if asking pardon, and lowering its head in humility. Simeon
looked at it carefully, and pulled a piece of wood a cubit in length out of its eye. All
who saw it glorified God, even though they had kept well back through fear. The
beast curled itself up and lay unmoving while all the people walked past it. Then it
got up and bowed down before the door of the monastery for about two hours, before
going back to its den without doing anyone any harm.

Chapter XI
A certain woman, feeling thirsty one night, went to the water jar for a drink and
swallowed a little serpent which had been in the jar. It lodged in her stomach, and
all the efforts of doctors, spellbinders and wizards were unable to do anything about
it. After a while she was taken to the holy Simeon, who ordered her to be placed on
the ground and water from the monastery to be put into her mouth. He then cried
loudly, and pulled out of her mouth a serpent three cubits long. The serpent burst
within the hour, after having been inside her for seven days. In that same hour the
woman was restored to health.

Chapter XII
The greatest possible eloquence would hardly be sufficient to describe adequately all
his miracles, but his powers were so great that they cannot be passed over in
silence. It so happened that water was in very short supply in the region, and the
people and all the animals were in danger of perishing for lack of water. Holy Simeon
saw their plight and stood in prayer. At about the tenth hour of the day there was a
sudden earthquake which caused an enormous upheaval in the land to the East of the
monastery. A cleft appeared in which could be seen an immeasurable amount of
water. He ordered a well to be dug seven cubits deep, and from that time onwards
there has been no lack of water right up to the present day.
It was at this time also that there were a group of people travelling from a distance
to seek for Simeon's prayers and witness his deeds, and they paused on the way to
rest under a leafy tree because of the heat. As they were sitting there they suddenly
saw a pregnant deer walking by.
"By the prayers of the holy Simeon," they cried, "we conjure you to stay still for us to
catch you."
And the deer stayed absolutely motionless. They caught it and killed it, and after
eating some of it they were struck dumb, and it was in this condition that they
arrived before holy Simeon, carrying the deer's hide with them. They stayed there for
two years without being able to find a complete cure for their dumbness. Their crime
was so wicked that it is almost a crime to talk about it. The hide of the deer was
hung up in the church as a witness to the miracle of the cursing.

Chapter XIII
There was a large leopard in those parts killing both humans and animals over a wide
area. The people came from there to the holy Simeon and told him of all the great
evils which the beast was responsible for. The holy Simeon ordered that some of the
earth from the monastery should be taken and scattered about in that place, and it
was done. The people carried out a search a little later and found the leopard lying
dead, and they all glorified the God of Simeon.

Chapter XIV
This is the injunction he gave to someone he had cured:
"Go home and give glory to God who has cured you, and don't dare to say that
Simeon cured you. And don't presume to swear by the name of the Lord. That is a
grave sin. If you must, swear by me a humble sinner, whether you are right or wrong."
This is why all the Eastern and barbarous peoples of that region swear by Simeon.

Chapter XV
A certain robber from Antioch named Ionathas suddenly burst into the monastery
followed by many pursuers, like a lion pursued by a hunting party and unable to hide
from them. He embraced the column of the holy Simeon and wept bitterly.
"Who are you, my son?" asked Simeon, "and where have you come from and why
have you come here?"
"I am Ionathas, a robber. I have committed many crimes and have come here to
"Of such is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19.14), said the holy Simeon, "but don't
try and put me to the test, lest you be found to have returned to the wickednesses
you have renounced."
The official pursuers from Antioch arrived as he spoke.
"Hand over to us that evil and dangerous Jonathas," they cried, "or else the city will
be in a riot. For the beasts to devour him have already been prepared."
"I did not lead him to this place," said the blessed Simeon. "He who led him here is
greater than I and comes to the aid of people like this. For of such is the kingdom of
heaven. But if you feel able to enter here, come and seize him. I can't do that
myself, for I fear him who sent him here."
Greatly afraid, the men went away and told them in Antioch what had happened.
Jonathas in the meantime clung to the pillar and embraced it for the space of seven
"Sir," he said to the blessed Simeon, "if you gave the word I would like to be able to
walk away from here."
"In a hurry to get back to your wickedness then?"
"No, sir, but my time has come."
And he gave up his spirit as he spoke. As they were about to bury him outside the
monastery, another lot of officials came after him from Antioch.
"Give us this criminal", they cried. "The whole city is in an uproar because of him."
"He who led him here," said the blessed Simeon, "came with a company of the
heavenly host, and he has the power to cast your whole city and everyone in it down
to hell. He has reconciled this soul to himself, and I was afraid that he might also
take me as well. So don't please cause me any more trouble, humble sinner that I
And they too, departed in great fear, and told everything that they had heard and

Chapter XVI
A few years later, he prostrated himself to pray on a Friday and stayed there all day
Saturday and Sunday. I became very worried, and climbed up and stood in front of
"Master," I said, "Please get up and give us a blessing. There have been people here
for the last three days expecting a blessing from you."
He made no reply.
"How is it that you are not taking any notice of me?" I asked. "Have I done
something to offend you? Please, give me your hand - or, has your spirit perchance
When he did not answer me, I thought I would not say anything to anyone - I was
frightened to touch him. After standing there for half an hour I bent down to put my
ear where I could listen more closely. There was no breath, only a smell as of many
perfumes which rose from his body, and I knew that he had gone to rest in the Lord.
Stunned, I wept bitterly, bent down kissed his eyes and smoothed his beard and his
"Why have you left me, my master?" I wailed. "Where now shall I find your Angelic
teachings? How can I answer for you? Who will be able to took at this column
without you, and refrain from mourning? What reply shall I give to the sick when they
come looking for you and find you not? What shall I say? How can I in my lowliness
explain? I see you here today; tomorrow I shall search both on the right hand and on
the left and shall not find you. In what guise could I possibly take over your column?
Alas, when they come from afar seeking you and finding you not!"
So great was my grief that I lost consciousness, and immediately he appeared to me.
"I shall not abandon this column," he said, "nor the blessed mountain in this place
where I have become so well known. But go down and make excuses to the people,
and send a message to the bishop in Antioch, but secretly lest there be tumult
amidst the people. For I have gone to my rest, as the Lord wills. But you must carry
on ministering in this place, and the Lord will reward you in heaven."
I came to, and in trepidation replied to him, "Master, remember me in your holy
resting place."
Lifting his robe I fell at his feet and kissed the soles of his feet, and because I knew
how much greater they were than mine, I placed them on my eyes, and cried, "Bless
me, I pray, my master."
And again I wept and cried, "What may I keep of yours to remind me of you?"
And as I said this his body twitched, but I was frightened of touching him.

Chapter XVII
No one knew what had happened. I went down from the column and sent a reliable
brother to the bishop in Antioch. He came at once with three other bishops and also
Ardaborius, the commander-in-chief of the army. They set up tripods around the
column and fixed his garments to them. They brought his body down and laid it next
to an altar in front of the column, and as they gathered together, a flock of birds flew
over the column, making bird cries as if in mourning, as everyone could see. The
lamentation of both human beings and beasts could be heard for seven miles around.
Even the mountains and fields and trees in that place were grieving, for a thick fog
spread all around.
I was wondering whether an Angel would come and visit him, and indeed at about
the seventh hour, seven seniors were in conversation with an Angel whose face
shone like lightning and whose clothing was white as snow. And for as long as I
could I listened to his voice in fear and trembling. I could not describe what it was

Chapter XVIII
While the holy Simeon was lying on the funeral bier, the Pope of Antioch tried to take
a lock from Simeon's beard for a holy relic, but as he put out his hand it was
immediately paralysed. Many oaths were sworn to God and prayers made for him
before his hand was restored.

Chapter XIX
Having put the body on a funeral bier they set out for Antioch. All the people from
the surrounding region grieved that they were being deprived of such a great source
of relics, for the bishop of Antioch had forbidden his body to be touched.

Chapter XX
When they got as far as the village of Meroë, nobody was able to move it any
further. Then a man who had been deaf and dumb for forty years suddenly fell down
before the bier and began to speak.
"Welcome, O servant of God!" he cried. "Your arrival has cured me! If I deserve to
live, I shall serve you all the days of my life."
He got up from the ground, seized one of the mules drawing the bier and
immediately began to move it forward. And so that man was made whole from that
moment. His sin had been to love the wife of another person. He had wanted to
commit adultery with her but never had the opportunity. The woman died and was
placed in a tomb, but he had broken into the sepulchre, and been immediately struck
deaf and dumb, in which state he had been held for forty years.

Chapter XXI
Everyone from the city of Antioch went out to bring in the body of the holy Simeon
with offerings of gold and silver. With psalms and hymns and many torches they
brought him first of all the principal church, and then to the church of Penitence.
Many miracles occurred at his sepulcher, more than had occurred during his lifetime,
and the man who had been cured served there till the day of his death. Many people
of the faith offered money to the bishop of Antioch, hoping for relics from his body,
but were disappointed because of the oaths that had been sworn.
I, Antony, a humble sinner, have put together this brief account to the best my
ability. Blessed is he who possesses this book and reads it in the church and house
of God, for when he celebrates Simeon's memory he will receive a reward from the
Most High, for his is the honour and the power and the glory unto the ages of ages.

    St. Simeon Stylites[2]

A.D. 459

ST. SIMEON was, in his life and conduct, a subject of astonishment, not only to the
whole Roman empire, but also to many barbarous and infidel nations. The Persians,
Medes, Saracens, Ethiopians, Iberians, and Scythians, had the highest veneration for
him. The kings of Persia thought his benediction a great happiness. The Roman
emperors solicited his prayers, and consulted him on matters of the greatest
importance. It must, nevertheless, be acknowledged, that his most remarkable
actions, how instrumental soever they might be to this universal veneration and
regard for him, are a subject of admiration, not of imitation. They may serve,
notwithstanding, to our spiritual edification and improvement in virtue; as we cannot
well reflect on his fervor without condemning and being confounded at our own
indolence in the service of God.

St. Simeon was son to a poor shepherd in Cilicia, on the borders of Syria, and at first
kept his father's sheep. Being only thirteen years of age, he was much moved by
hearing the beatitudes one day read in the church, particularly these: Blessed are
they that mourn; blessed are the clean of heart. The youth addressed himself to a
certain old man, to learn the meaning of those words, and begged to know how the
happiness they promised was to be obtained. He told him that continual prayer,
watching, fasting, weeping, humiliation, and patient suffering of persecutions, were
pointed out by those texts as the road to true happiness; and that a solitary life
afforded the best opportunities for enforcing the practice of these good works, and
establishing a man in solid virtue. Simeon, upon this, withdrew to a small distance
where, falling prostrate upon the ground, he besought Him, who desires that all may
be saved, to conduct him in the paths which lead to happiness and perfection -- to
the pursuit of which, under the help of his divine grace, he unreservedly from that
moment devoted himself. At length, falling into a slumber, he was favored with a
vision, which it was usual with him afterward to relate. He seemed to himself to be
digging a pit for the foundation of a house, and that, as often as he stopped for
taking a little breath, which was four times, he was commanded each time to dig
deeper, till at length he was told he might desist, the pit being deep enough to
receive the intended foundation, on which he would be able to raise a superstructure
of that kind, and to what height he pleased. "The event," says Theodorot, "verified
the prediction; the actions of this wonderful man were so superior to nature that they
might well require the deepest foundation of humanity and fervor whereon to raise
and establish them."

Rising from the ground, he repaired to a monastery in that neighborhood under the
direction of a holy abbot, called Timothy, and lay prostrate at the gate for several
days, without either eating or drinking; begging to be admitted on the footing of the
lowest servant in the house, and as a general drudge. His petition was granted, and
he complied with the terms of it with great fervor and affection for four months.
During this time he learned he Psalter by heart, the first task enjoined the novices;
and his familiarity with the sacred oracles it contains greatly helped to nourish his
soul in a spiritual life. Though yet in his tender youth, he practiced all the austerities
of the house and, by his humility and charity, gained the good-will of all the monks.
Having here spent two years, he removed to the monastery of Heliodorus, a person
endowed with an admirable spirit of prayer and who, being then sixty-five years of
age, had spent sixty-two of them in that community, so abstracted from the world as
to be utterly ignorant of the most obvious things in it -- as Theodoret relates, who
was intimately acquainted with him. Here Simeon much increased his mortifications;
for, whereas those monks ate but once a day, which was towards night, he, for his
part, made but one meal a week, which was on Sundays. These rigors, however, he
moderated at the interposition of his superior's authority, and from that time was
more private in his mortifications. With this view, judging the rough rope of the well,
made of twisted palm-tree leaves, a proper instrument of penance, he tied it close
about his naked body, where it remained unknown both to the community and his
superior till such time as, it having eaten into his flesh, what he had privately done
was discovered by the stench proceeding from the wound. Three days successively,
his clothes, which clung to it, were to be softened with liquids to disengage them;
and the incisions of the physician, to cut the cord out of his body, were attended with
such anguish and pain, that he lay for some time as dead. On his recovery, the
abbot, to prevent the ill consequences such a dangerous singularity might occasion,
to the prejudice of uniformity in monastic discipline, dismissed him.

After this he repaired to a hermitage, at the foot of mount Telnescin, or Thelanissa,
where he came to a resolution of passing the whole forty days of Lent in a total
abstinence, after the example of Christ, without either eating or drinking. Bassus, a
holy priest and abbot of two hundred monks, who was his director and to whom he
had communicated his design, had left with him ten loaves and water, that he might
eat if he found it necessary. At the expiration of the forty days he came to visit him
and found the loaves and water untouched but Simeon stretched out on the ground,
almost without any signs of life. Taking a sponge, he moistened his lips with water,
then gave him the blessed Eucharist. Simeon, having recovered a little, rose up, and
chewed and swallowed by degrees a few lettuce-leaves, and other herbs. This was
his method of keeping Lent during the remainder of his life; and he had actually
passed twenty-six Lents after this manner, when Theodoret wrote his account of him;
in which are these other particulars, that he spent the first part of Lent in praising
God standing; growing weaker, he continued his prayer sitting; and towards the end,
finding his spirits almost quite exhausted, not able to support himself in any other
posture, he lay on the ground. However, it is probable, that in his advanced years he
admitted some mitigation of this wonderful austerity. When on his pillar, he kept
himself, during this fast, tied to a pole but at length was able to fast the whole
term, without any support. Many attribute this to the strength of his constitution,
which was naturally very robust, and had been gradually habituated to such an
extraordinary abstinence. It is well known that the hot eastern climates afford
surprising instances of long abstinence among the Indians. * A native of France has,
within our memory, fasted the forty days of Lent almost in that manner. * But few
examples occur of persons fasting upwards of three or six days unless prepared and
inured by habit.

After three years spent in this hermitage, the saint removed to the top of the same
mountain, where, throwing together some loose stones in the form of a wall, he
made for himself an enclosure, but without any roof or shelter to protect him from
the inclemencies of the weather; and to confirm his resolution of pursuing this
manner of life, he fastened his right leg to a rock with a great iron chain. Meletius,
vicar to the patriarch of Antioch, told him that a firm will, supported by God's grace,
was sufficient to make him abide in his solitary enclosure, without having recourse to
any bodily restraint; hereupon the obedient servant of God sent for a smith, and had
his train knocked off.

The mountain began to be continually thronged, and the retreat his soul so much
sighed after to be interrupted by the multitudes that flocked, even from remote and
infidel countries, to receive his benediction; by which many sick recovered their
health. Some were not satisfied unless they also touched him. The saint, to remove
these causes of distraction, projected for himself a new and unprecedented manner
of life. In 423, he erected a pillar six cubits high, and on it he dwelt four years; on a
second twelve cubits high, he lived three years; on a third, twenty-two cubits high,
ten years; and on a fourth, forty cubits high, built for him by the people, he spent the
last twenty years of his life. Thus he lived thirty-seven years on pillars, and was
called Stylites, from the Greek word Stylos, which signifies a pillar. This singularity
was at first censured by all, as a mark of vanity or extravagance. To make trial of his
humility, an order was sent him, in the name of the neighboring bishops and abbots,
to quit his pillar and new manner of life. The saint, ready to obey the summons, was
for stepping down -- which the messenger seeing said that as he had shown a
willingness to obey, it was their desire that he might follow his vocation in God. His
pillar exceeded not three feet in diameter on the top, which made it impossible for
him to lie extended on it; neither would he allow a seat. He only stooped, or leaned,
to take a little rest, and often in the day bowed his body in prayer. A certain person
once reckoned one thousand two hundred and forty-four such reverences of adoration
made by him in one day. He made exhortations to the people twice a day. His
garments were the skins of beasts, and he wore an iron collar about his neck. He
never suffered any woman to come within the enclosure where his pillar stood. His
disciple Antony mentions that he prayed most fervently for the soul of his mother
after her decease.

God is sometimes pleased to conduct certain fervent souls through extraordinary
paths, in which others would find only dangers of illusion, vanity and self-will, which
we cannot sufficiency guard ourselves against. We should notwithstanding consider
that the sanctity of these fervent souls does not consist in such wonderful actions or
miracles, but in the perfection of their unfeigned charity, patience, and humility; and
it was the exercise of these solid virtues that rendered so conspicuous the life of this
saint; these virtues he nourished and greatly increased, by fervent and assiduous
prayer. He exhorted people vehemently against the horrible custom of swearing -- as
also, to observe strict justice, to take no usury, to be assiduous at church and in holy
prayer, and to pray for the salvation of souls. The great deference paid to his
instructions, even by barbarians, is not to be expressed. Many Persians, Armenians,
and Iberians, with the entire nation of the Lazi in Colchis, were converted by his
miracles and discourses, which they crowded to hear. Princes and queens of the
Arabians came to receive his blessing. Vararanes V, king of Persia, though a cruel
persecutor, respected him. The emperors Theodosius the younger and Leo often
consulted him, and desired his prayers. The emperor Marcian visited him, disguised in
the dress of a private man. By his advice the empress Eudoxia abandoned the
Entychian party a little before her death. His miracles and predictions are mentioned
at large in Theodoret and others. By an invincible patience he bore all afflictions,
austerities, and rebukes, without ever mentioning them. He long concealed a horrible
ulcer in his foot, swarming with maggots. He always sincerely looked upon, and
treated himself, as the outcast of the world and the last of sinners; and he spoke to
all with the most engaging sweetness and charity. Domnus, patriarch of Antioch,
administered unto him the holy communion on his pillar; undoubtedly he often
received that benefit from others. In 459, according to Cosmas, on a Wednesday, the
2nd of September, this incomparable penitent, bowing on a pillar, as if intent on
prayer, gave up the ghost, in the sixty-ninth year of his age. On the Friday following
his corpse was conveyed to Antioch, attended by the bishops and the whole country.
Many miracles, related by Evagrius, * Antony, and Cosmas, were wrought on his
occasion; and the people immediately over all the East, kept his festival with great
solemnity. *

The extraordinary manner of life which this saint led, is a proof of the fervor with
which he sought to live in the most perfect sequestration from creatures, and union
with God and hearer. The most perfect accomplishment of the Divine Will was his
only view, and the sole object of his desires; whence upon the least intimation of an
order from a superior, he was ready to leave his pillar; nor did he consider this
undertaking as anything great or singular, by which he should appear distinguished
from others. By humility he looked upon himself as justly banished from among men
and hidden from the world in Christ. No one is to practice or aspire after virtue or
perfection upon a motive of greatness, or of being exalted by it. This would be to fall
into the snare of pride, which is to be feared under the cloak of sanctity itself. The
foundation of Christian perfection is a love of humiliation, a sincere spirit of humility.
The heroic practice of virtue must be undertaken, not because it is a sublime and
elevated state, but because God calls us to it, and by it we do his will and become
pleasing to him. The path of the cross, or of contempt, poverty, and sufferings, was
chosen by the Father for his divine Son to repair his glory and restore to man the
spiritual advantages of which sin had robbed him. And the more perfectly we walk in
his spirit, by the love and esteem of his cross, the greater share shall we possess in
its incomparable advantages. Those who in the practice of virtue prefer great or
singular actions, because they appeal more shining, whatever pretexts of a more
heroic virtue, or of greater utility to others they allege are the dupes of a secret
pride, and follow the corrupt inclinations of their own heart, while they affect the
language of the saints. We are called to follow Christ by bearing our crosses after
him, leading at least in spirit a hidden life, always trembling in a deep sense of our
frailty, and humbled in the center of our nothingness, as being of ourselves the very
abstract of weakness, and an unfathomed abyss of corruption.
From the account given of him by Theodoret, one of the most judicious and most
learned prelates of the church, who lived in the same country and often visited him;
this account was written sixteen years before the saint's death. Also from St.
Simeon's life written by Antony, his disciple, published genuine in Bollandus, and the
same in Chaldaic by Cosmas, a priest: all three contemporaries and eye-witnesses.
This work of Cosmas has been lately published by Monsignor Stephen Assemani, *
from a Chaldaic MS. which he proves to have been written in the year 474, fifteen
years only after the death of St. Simeon Also from the ancient lives of SS. Euthyinius,
Theodosius, Auxentius and Daniel Stylites. Evagrius, Theodorus Lector and other
most faithful writers of that and the following age, mention the most wonderful
actions of this saint. The severest critics do not object to this history, in which so
many contemporary writers, several of them eye-witnesses, agree -- persons of
undoubted veracity, virtue, and sagacity, who could not have conspired in a
falsehood, nor could have imposed upon the world facts, which were of their own
nature public and notorious. See Tillemont, T. 14.
[1] Vitae Patrum, Life No 10, The Life of St Simeon Stylites by Antony, his disciple
[2] Butler's Lives of the Saints, Jan 5.
Vitae Patrum Life No 10
The Life of St Simeon Stylites
by Antony, his disciple
Lives of the Saints