Icon of St. Symeon Stylites – S223


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Church Feast Day 1



Egg Tempera


Mount Athos, Greece


Pachomeon Brotherhood


20th c. (Late)


St. Symeon’s life (a.d. 390-459) is so wondrous that it is hard for us separated by so many centuries to believe that his deeds through Christ are even possible, but there were thousands of witnesses to his ascetic life.  He was born the son of a shepherd in Sissan, Cappadocia, then in northern Syria, and was an extreme self-denier by the time he was 13, entering a monastery before he was 16.  He was so strict about not eating or drinking and mortifying his flesh that the abbot asked him to leave the monastery.

He was guided by Christ to stand at first on a short pillar about 12 feet tall, and in time the pillars got taller until he established himself standing day and night on the top of a pillar over 45 feet tall in what is now Qalaat Semaan, Syria between Antioch and Aleppo.  There he fasted completely the entire Great Lent each year and stood for 37 years without sitting or lying down.  He made thousands of prostrations each day.  In time crowds of people came to see him and he answered their requests for advice, from Emperors to simple shepherds.  Humble, meek, unbending towards himself, yet merciful to others, St. Symeon redefined the ascetic life.