St. Simeon the Stylite
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As a thirteen-year-old shepherd of Sisan, Turkey, Simeon heard a Gospel reading of the Beatitudes that greatly affected him. Entering a nearly monastery, he learned all the Psalms by heart and began to manifest the extraordinary spirit of self-denial that was to become a hallmark of his spirituality. Thereafter Simeon lived as a hermit. In the year 423 he imposed on himself the unusual mortification of living atop a pillar only a few feet in diameter and about ten feet high. Later a much taller pillar over sixty-five feet high was built for him. The local bishops and abbots tested his virtue by commanding him to come down from the pillar, a command they immediately rescinded after the hermit demonstrated his humble willingness to obey them. One bishop even brought him Holy Communion. Simeon devoted himself to prayer, but also gave exhortations twice daily to those who gathered around the pillar to hear him. His words won the conversion of pagans in the audience. Simeon would urge his listeners to pray for the salvation of souls. Following his mother’s death, he offered particularly fervent prayers for her.
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