Saturday, July 6, 2013

History mystery:Simeon Stylites -A Saint On A Pillar

Simeon was a Christian ascetic saint who became immortal and got great honour for living not less than 37 years on a small rectangular platform on an erected pillar in Syria with excessive austerities and he got the honor as Saint Siemon Stylites or The Symeon the Stylite. Simeon was the first in the Eastern countries who attain fame for long succession of stylitoe which is the strange form of asceticism and he was called by natives as “Pillar Hermit”. This is not the fable but it has very reliable first hand evidence in history. He was a born as a Shepherd boy in the northern border of Syria and he went to a christen monastery in his adolescence. He followed very strict practices of monastery life but his fellow brethren disqualified him and so he left the monastery and he isolated himself from the rest of the crowd in a hut for nearly three years.

 During that period he passed the whole of the 40 days period of Lent without eating and drinking. After this he regularly practiced this with chagrin of standing upright for a longer time. In the later period he was successful to be able to stand on his feet throughout his fasting. His name and fame spread throughout the desert and huge crowd poured in to visit him as pilgrims and disturbed him with prayer request and counsel which was affected very much his personal religious fervor and he was forced to adopt a novel way of leading a new life. He planned to lead his life on a small platform on the top of an erected pillar until his death. Though the first pillar erected was about nine feet high but it was subsequently replaced by his followers up to 15 meters and the Platform he lived atop was about one square meter only. He followed some peculiar and strict practices. According to his hagiography, he never allowed woman to come near even his own mother Martha was not allowed by him to see. And he told her that if they were worthy then they could meet at heaven, hence she also practiced the monastic life of silence and died. After her death he asked for his dead mother and he had done a respectful farewell prayer for his lovely mother and according to some account, a smile was appeared on his dead mothers face.

He preached to his fellow men and wrote letters to his disciples and some time delivered addresses to the crowd assembled beneath the column (Still some of the remaining of his text were available). During the last phase of his life his fame spread throughout the Roman Empire. The King Theodosius III and his wife Aelica Eudocia had great respect to the pillar saint and honoured his counsels. Once he was sick and the king Theodosius send some doctors to attend him and he requested him to come down from the pillar but he strictly refused and told that his health is in God’s dear hand, luckily he recovered. Simeon was died on September Second of 459AD after leading a 37 years successful life on Pillar and was commemorated by Coptic Orthodox Church as Saint. The first one who found his death was his stunt follower and disciple Antony.

Antony was concerned since his saint teacher was not appeared to the people for three days successively he climbed upon the pillar and found his master’s dead body stooped over at prayer and he performed the funeral ceremony before the huge crowd of public and the clergy and established a monastery there. The ruins of the vast edifice erected on his honour is still remains there as an evidence. Almost all his biography was written after his death and we have few manuscripts about his life. The first one is The Vatican manuscript was published by S. E. Assemani, Acta Sanctorum Martyrum (Rome, 1748), Vol. II, pp. 273 -394. The other best known manuscripts are the Codex Vaticanus clx., and two codices of the British Museum, namely Add. 12174, and Add. 14484

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