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St. Simeon Stylites the Younger

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Born at Antioch in 521, died at the same place 24 May, 597. His father was a native of Edessa, his mother, named Martha was afterwards revered as a saint and a life of her, which incorporates a letter to her son written from his pillar to Thomas, the guardian of the true cross at Jerusalem, has been printed. Like his namesake, the first Stylites, Simeon seems to have been drawn very young to a life of austerity. He attached himself to a community of ascetics living within the mandra or enclosure of another pillar-hermit, named John, who acted as their spiritual director. Simeon while still only a boy had a pillar erected for himself close to that of John. It is Simeon himself who in the above-mentioned letter to Thomas states that he was living upon a pillar when he lost his first teeth. He maintained this kind of life for 68 years. In the course of this period, however, he several times moved to a new pillar, and on the occasion of the first of these exchanges the Patriarch of Antioch and the Bishop of Seleucia ordained him deacon during the short space of time he spent upon the ground. For eight years until John died, Simeon remained near his master's column, so near that they could easily converse. During this period his austerities were kept in some sort of check by the older hermit.

After John's death Simeon gave full rein to his ascetical practices and Evagrius declares that he lived only upon the branches of a shrub that grew near Theopolis. Simeon the younger was ordained priest and was thus able to offer the Holy Sacrifice in memory of his mother. On such occasions his disciples one after another climbed up the ladder to receive Communion at his hands. As in the case of most of the other pillar saints a large number of miracles were believed to have been worked by Simeon the Younger. In several instances the cure was effected by pictures representing him (Holl in "Philotesia", 56). Towards the close of his life the saint occupied a column upon a mountain-side near Antioch called from his miracles the "Hill of Wonders", and it was here that he died. Besides the letter mentioned, several writings are attributed to the younger Simeon. A number of these small spiritual tractates were printed by Cozza-Luzi ("Nova PP. Bib.", VIII, iii, Rome, 1871, pp. 4-156). There is also an "Apocalypse" and letters to the Emperors Justinian and Justin II (see fragments in P.G., LXXXVI, pt. II, 3216-20). More especially Simeon was the reputed author of a cerain number of liturgical hymns, "Troparis", etc. (see Pétridès in "Echos d'Orient", 1901 and 1902).

Simeon Stylites III, another pillar hermit, who also bore the name Simeon, is honoured by both the Greeks and the Copts. He is hence believed to have lived in the fifth century before the breach which occurred between these Churches. But it must be confessed that very little certain is known of him. He is believed to have been struck by lightning upon his pillar, built near Hegca in Cicilia.

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