viernes, 17 de abril de 2009

Simeon the Stylite

B. in Cilicia, c. 390; d. at Telanissus, 24 July 459; f.d. 5 January. The elder Simeon was the first and most famous of the pillar ascetics. He was the son of a shepherd, and from early youth subjected himself to ever-increasing bodily austerities, especially in fasting from food. For some twenty years he lived in various hermitages and monasteries in northern Syria. Then in 423 he began to live on a pillar, at Telanissu (Dair Sem'an). At first the pillar was low, but over the years its height was increased to some sixty feet; at the top was a platform, with a balustrade, which is calculated to have been about twelve feet square. There he spent the remainder of his life, thirty-six years. After his death a monastery and sanctuary were built over the spot, and amidst the imposing ruins the base of Simeon's column can still be seen.
The reason given for Simeon's adopting this extraordinary mode of existence was his wish to avoid the press of people who flocked to him for his prayers and advice (it has been amusingly put that, 'despairing of escaping the world horizontally, he tried to escape it vertically'). The contrary of course happended: many more people came to him, whether pilgrims or sightseers, from emperors downwards. Every afternoon he was at their disposal, teaching, exhorting, answering questions. He was full of kindliness and sympathy, and his discourses and instructions were marked by practical common sense and freedom from fanaticism.

Donald Attwater, The Penguin Dictionary of Saints; p.309. Penguin Books, 1965.