Saint of the Month - St. Symeon the Stylite, September 1

Born in Syria, Symeon was a shepherd, but at the age of eighteen he left home and became a monk, practicing the strictest type of asceticism. At times he fasted for forty days.  After a few years at a monastery he took up an ascetical discipline unique at that time: mounting a pillar, he stood on it night and day in prayer. Though he sought only seclusion and prayer, his holiness became famous, and thousands would make pilgrimage to receive a word from him or to touch his garments.

St. Symeon the StyliteCountless nomadic Arabs came to faith in Christ through the power of his example and prayers. To retreat further from the world, he used progressively taller pillars: his first pillar was about ten feet high, his final one about fifty. He was known also for the soundness of his counsel: he confirmed the Orthodox doctrine at the Council of Chalcedon and persuaded the Empress Eudocia, who had been seduced by Monophyte beliefs, to return to the true Christian faith. After about forty years of living in asceticism, he reposed in peace at the age of sixty-nine. He was at first suspected of taking up his way of life out of pride, but his monastic brethren confirmed his humility thus: They went to him as a group, and told him that the brotherhood had decided that he should come down from his pillar and rejoin them.  Immediately he began to climb down from the pillar.  Seeing his obedience and humility, they told him to remain with their blessing.

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