Do you know who the Syrian Miraculous Man of God is?
Knowing or not knowing will neither offend him nor make him happy for he was one who was not touched by life or death so that he couldn’t be humiliated by anyone. In his lifetime the cosmic life force enabled him to live beyond life’s temptations, and death took him without fanfare so as not to harm him. Therefore, he was afflicted with everything terrible and bore it easily. He was a man whose enlightened soul was in the palm of God’s hand.
All these descriptions are not enough to embody the story of the Syrian Saint Samaan al-Amoudi (Simeon Stylites 389-459), the Christian Ascetic Saint who achieved fame for living for more than 37 years on a platform atop a small stone pillar near the city of Aleppo in Syria.
His worldwide followers from a diversity of religions — primarily the Orthodox Christians — used to practice a festive ritual in his honor on the first of September each year.
His birth and upbringing:
Saint Simeon was born around 389 or 392 AD in a Says village between Syria and Cilicia. He grew up in a poor, pious household. In his childhood, Simeon was a shepherd, following in his father’s profession.
Following his calling:
Simeon joined a monastery at the age of fifteen.
In the monastery, Simeon’s eyes were opened to the ascetic practices of monastic life. It seems that he even surpassed other monks in obedience and austerity. However, his stay did not last more than two years because his driving inclination was towards an even more austere life than that which prevailed in his days.
Simeon, a solitary hermit:
Simeon voluntarily adopted a very harsh ascetic life while living at the monastery. Consequently, the head of the monastery was forced to banish him, fearing that the other monks would fall into the temptations presented by weakness and boredom because of what they saw of the strictness in the way Simeon worshiped God.
Simeon left the monastery as ordered as an act of of obedience. He settled in an area called “Telanison,” not far from the city of Antioch.
Simeon found an abandoned hut and conducted a cemetery there for three years. He was ministered to by a priest named Blas, who used to visit the place.
From “Telanison” Simeon moved to the top of a mountain on which he built himself a simple cell without a roof in order to be open to the elements. It was there he engaged in his fasts and prayers, unconcerned with the fluctuations of the weather.
When thousands of pilgrims, possessed persons, and the sick began to make their way to the saint, the Lord God informed him that he should attend to the needs of the people.
Once, a luminous white cloud covered the great mountain when an angel of the Lord appeared to Saint Simeon and drew on the ground a plan for a spacious monastery and a church in the same place he was occupying. Then shortly after that, Isafrian men whom the saint had previously dismissed, came, and under the saint’s instructions, began to work with him on the construction.
In the middle of this complex, consisting of a church in the name of the Holy Trinity and monastic buildings distributed in the form of a cross, a new column was erected for the saint, ranging in height between sixteen and eighteen meters.
One day, Saint Simeon descended from the rocky outcrop on which he appeared ten years before. And as the monks placed him on a throne while he included the holy gospels on his chest, he walked around the new monastery blessed, and his mother, Saint Martha, was circling with him, and she carried the cross and chanted ‘Halleluia,’ while circling in front of him. Then he ascended to the new pillar, and the Lord Jesus appeared to him in all his glory and blessed his ascent to it.
In the thirty-third year, Simeon accepted the ordination from the hand of Bishop Dionysius of Seleucia, who ascended to him on the pillar.
Simeon announced that a great earthquake would occur after a terrifying vision. As foretold, a violent earthquake struck Constantinople and Nicaea and struck Nicomedia and Rivius. He also foretold that the plague would strike Antioch. These events happened until the plague reached the strange mountain, and some of Simeon’s monks, including one of his beloved disciples, succumbed to it.
Simeon lived to the age of 71. Before his death, he predicted the difficulties the monastery would go through because of the intrigues of Angolas. He also revealed to two monks that, from his youth, he had been blessed by God to live without food and that every Sunday, after the Divine Liturgy, an angel brought him secret food.
Bioenergetics consider the phrase “secret food” to be the entry of a kind of super-powerful vital cosmic energy into the ethereal aura of the enlightened and god-knowing people (Sufis).
Saint Simeon delivered his soul on the pillar on the 1st of September of 459 AD. He provided the brothers with guidance and delivered his soul to the hands of the living God in peace. Simeon remained for three days on his knees before anyone discovered that he had left them. They thought he was drowning in his prayers but when they went up to him to ask why he was silent, they found him dead.
Ecclesiastical documents written after his death bear witness to many phenomena that occurred after his passing. They exceeded, in number, what he had accomplished in his lifetime and the smell of perfume continued to emanate from his column for a long time. His body was transferred to Antioch and deposited in the Church of St. Cassian, a church built primarily for him, known as the Church of Repentance.
To this day, two religious hymns about him are still sung in the church so that his story remains in the believers’ collective memory.
The first celestial melody says:
You became a pillar of patience, and of the ancient fathers, you strove, comparing Job with sufferings, Joseph with temptations, and the life of the disembodied while you are in the body.
The second spiritual melody says:
For the higher things have sought a seeker, and you are with the earthly ones, as you became the pillar as a chariot of fire, and with it, you became to the angels,
O righteous one, so do not cease to intercede with them to Christ God for all of us.