Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mor Simon, the Stylite - July 27

The Syriac Orthodox Church Celebrates the feast of Mor Simon the Stylite (Semavoon Desthoono) on July 27th. We remember Mor Simon in our 5th Thubdeen in our Holy Mass.
Attaching a brief biography of the Saint.

Mor Simon - July 27th

Mor Simon is the first among the pillar ascetics. The term stylite originated from the Green word 'stylos' which means pillar. Simon was born in the village of Sesan, a place on the border of Cicila and Syria.

Simon was a shepherd at young age. While in the filed with sheep, he saw a vision. Later, he disposed of his properties and the assests of his aunt, which had been entrusted to him. He distributed part of the proceeds among the poor and the needy. The remaining assets he took to the monastery of Eusebona at Tell 'Ada, situated between Antioch and Alleppo. He joined the monastery with his brother Shemse when he was in the teens.

Later, he dug a pit of about 4 ft in the garden and stood in the pit for about 2 months. After the midnight prayer he used to stand with a big stone hung around his neck. He also stood on a roller to resist sleep in the night. His fellow hermits were jealous about these practices of Simon and raised some false accusations against him. Thus, he left the monastery of Eusebona. The head of the monastery gave him four coins which he refused to accept and said: "May your prayers be the viaticum for me"

Mor Simon reached the village Telanissue, Diar Sem'an. He sat beneath a tree and prayer, "O God My Lord, by Thy will you protected me from all adversities. Help and guide me until I reach the heavenly abode". He then travelled and reached the monsatery of Maris. He healed several sick people while staying in this monastry.

Mor Simon was in the habit of observing the forty-day lent in all its seriousness. During thr 40 day lent he didnot eat anything. In A.D. 423 he prepared a platform of about 4 ft. high and stood on it for about five years. Mor Simon was going around the nearby villages to preach Gospel. Angels, prophets Elijah and Moses appeared to him. Several miracles happened through the intercession of Mor Simon.

Mor Simon spent about 40 years on a pillar. He prayed "O Lord, my God, let not the hands of mortal men be necessary for my help. Let not me step down from this pillar to see men on earth. Help me O Lord to end my life on this pillar on which I ascended by your grace. According to Thy will accompany the soul of Thy servant from this place".

Mor Simon had ulcers on his foot because of standing for long on the pillar. He suffered a lot for about nine months. Emperor Theodosius sent three Bishops to request Mor Simon to step down from the pillar. However, he spent time in prayer and fasting. In A.D 459(July) several people gathered around pillar to listen to his words. Mor Simon departed for the heavenly abode probably on Wed July 27. His body was kept on the pillar for 19 days in order to agree upon place of burial. The body was carried in a funeral procession from the Fort of Simon to Antioch.

The body was buried in a church at Antioch constructed by King Constantine. An evil spirited man touched the coffin during the funeral procession and was healed.

Now there are 4 churches near the pillar of Mor Simon. Those who followed his ascetic practices are called Stylites.

Ref: "Martyrs, Saints & Prelates" - Rev. Fr. Mani Rajan

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