The Eleventh Day of Christmas | St. Simeon, the Stylite | January 4, 2022
St. Simeon, the Stylite
The Eleventh Day of Christmas
January 4, 2022
St. Simeon, the Stylite (also known as Simeon the Elder) was a fourth century monk known for extreme austerity in his personal devotion to God. Entering the monastery before he was 16, he quickly proved too severe, almost extravagant, in his religious practices and was asked to leave the monastery. From there he moved to an empty well near a mountain cave
until a vision of angels demanding Simeon’s return came to the Abbot who quickly called him back. This was not a lengthy stay and the monk soon moved to nearby caves for several years as he continued his penitential form of following Christ.
St. Simeon earned his title of “Stylite” ("stylos” means pillar in Greek) from his disciplinary practice of standing atop a pillar during prayer and meditation. He increased the height of the pillar as he progressed, the highest standing fifty feet high, and his feats of devotion soon began to draw a crowd. As flattering as that may have been, Simeon was a solitary man and the crowds only drove him higher up the pillar. St. Simeon spent the next 37 years living atop his pillar in prayer and devotion to God. At age 69, after not appearing from his perch for three days, the faithful servant was found kneeling and slumped-over in prayer. His funeral was attended by “scores of clergy” and laypeople and his body laid to rest near the pillar he had called a home for so many years. His friend and disciple, Anthony, later established a monastery at the same place.
St. Simeon’s namesake from Luke’s gospel (ch. 2) provides a familiar benediction for evening prayer. The Nunc Dimittis, or Simeon’s Song, recounts the words spoken to Jesus by Simeon at his presentation at the Temple. This “just and devout” man had been promised by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah. These same words are said to have been used by the Stylite’s friend Anthony in dedication of the monastery built in Simeon’s memory.
Now, Lord, you let your servant go in peace:
your word has been fulfilled.
My own eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared in the sight of ev'ry people:
a light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel.
Guide us waking, O Lord,
and guard us sleeping;
that awake we may watch with Christ
and asleep we may rest in peace. (ELW, Night Prayer)
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Resources: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America., & Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. (2006). Evangelical Lutheran worship. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress. Anargyroi, A. (1970, January 1). St. Symeon the Stylite. Full of Grace and Truth. Retrieved January 3, 2022, from http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/2009/09/st-symeon-stylite.html Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica (Ed.). (2022, January 1). St. Simeon Stylite. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved January 3, 2022, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Simeon-Stylites