One of the more fascinating saints in history, St. Simeon was legendary for his self-inflicted punishments. He is said to have constricted his waist with a rope so tightly that he almost died. He was tireless in his pursuit of virtue and faith. He once tied himself to a rope at the top of a mountain and abstained from food every Lent. But his most famous accomplishment, indeed what he is named for, is dwelling on top a six-foot-wide pillar for thirty-seven years. This pillar went from nine feet high, to eighteen, to thirty-three, and finally ended up at fifty-four feet high when Simeon died on it at the age of sixty-nine in AD 459.
Why is St. Simeon Stylites a Sage? While he was enduring these punishments, multitudes flocked to see him, and to hear his wisdom. While on his pillar, he preached twice a day to the crowds below. He urged those listening to pray and pursue goodness and righteousness, but did not suggest that anyone follow his own means of pursuit. Simeon built his pillar to get away from the temptations of the world, but nevertheless used his wisdom and insight to help those who sought his guidance.
Image courtesy of skete.com.