Simeon, St, Surnamed Stylites
Simeon, St., Surnamed Stylites (from στύλος, a pillar), an early anchoret, was born about 390 at Sisan, on the confines of Cilicia and Syria. He was the son of a shepherd, and followed the same vocation himself till his thirteenth year, when he entered a monastery where several brethren consecrated themselves entirely to a knowledge of the Holy Scriptures. Living among austere devotees, he surpassed them all in the rigor of his moitifications, so that the superior, fearful of his example, at last dismissed him. After spending three years in solitude on Mt. Selenisissa, where he is said to have passed forty days without eating, a feat which he reenacted for many years afterwards, he betook. himself to the top of a mountain in Syria, and there made for himself a sort of shelter with stones piled on each other. In order to withdraw himself from the importunities of the crowds who came to him for the cure of their maladies, he contrived, about the year 423, to establish his residence on the top of a column, which he raised first from six to twelve, and at length to twenty-eight and thirty-six feet in height. Its summit was three feet in diameter and was surrounded with a balustrade of sufficient height. It was impossible to lie down upon it, and Simeon there maintained his abode day and night. A mode of life so extraordinary was, in general, regarded as a piece of extravagance and vanity, but by many as a mark of unusual holiness. From his aerial retreat the ascetic gave his instructions to the people who resorted thither, and held public consultations. Three Christian emperors — Theodosius the Younger, Marcion, and Leo — came to see him. His life was compared to that of angels offering up prayers for men from his elevation and bringing down graces on them. His neck was loaded with an iron chain. In praying he bent his body so that his forehead almost touched his feet. He took only one scanty meal a week and fasted .throughout the season of Lent. He uttered prophecies and wrought an .abundance of miracles. Simeon's fame became immense. Pilgrims from distant lands, as Spain, Gaul, and even Britain, flocked to see him. Little figures of him were, during his own lifetime, set up in the workshops of Rome as charms against evil. He corresponded with bishops and emperors, and influenced the policy both of Church and State. By his life and his exhortations he converted multitudes of Saracens and other nomads of the desert. Some time after he had adopted his peculiar manner of life, some neighboring monks sent to ask why he was not content with such fashions of holiness as had sufficed for the saints of earlier days. The messenger was charged to bid him leave his. pillar, and, in case of a refusal, to pull him down by force. But Simeon, on hearing the order, put forth one of his feet as if to descend; and the messenger, as he had been instructed, acknowledged this obedience as a proof that the Stylite's mode of life was approved by God, and desired him to continue in it. At length the devil appeared to Simeon in the form of the Savior and invited him to ascend to heaven in a chariot drawn by cherubim. Simeon put out his foot to enter the chariot, when the tempter vanished, and, in punishment of his presumption, left him with an ulcer in his thigh, which, for the remaining year of his life, obliged him to support himself .on one. leg. He died Sept. 1, 460. His body was removed with great ceremony to Antioch, the inhabitants of which had requested that it might be given to them as a defense for their city instead of the walls which they had lost. The Latins celebrate Simeon's festival on Jan. 5. There exists from him a Letter addressed to Theodosius the Younger to induce him to return to the Jews. their synagogues; it is inserted in the Biblioth. Orientalis of Assemani. There is also found in vol. 7 of the Bibl. Max. Patrum a homily, De Morte Assidue Cogitaanda, which is variously attributed to St. Simeon, to St. Macarius of Egypt, to St. Ephrem, and to Theophetus of Alexandria. See Hoefer, Noun. Biog. Generale, s.v. SEE STYLITES.
A disciple of Simeon by the name of Daniel succeeded to his reputation for sanctity and to his mode of life, which he maintained for thirty-three years in the still more trying climate of the shore of the Bosphorus, about four miles from Constantinople. The marvels of Daniel's career are still more startling. Sometimes he was almost blown by the storms from the top of his pillar. At times for days together he was covered with snow and ice. How he sustained life, what nourishment he took, was a mystery to his disciples. The emperor at length insisted on a covering being placed over the top of the pillar, and Daniel survived till the year 494. SEE DANIEL THE STYLITE.
See Theodoret, Hist. Ascetica, c. 26; Ceillier, Hist. des Auteurs Sacres, 15, 439; Acta Sanctorum, Jan.; Muratori, Acta Martyrum Orient. (1700); Krebs, De Stylitis (Lips. 1753);. Uhlemann, Simeo, der Fii st Stylita (Leips. 1846). SEE PILLAR SAINTS.