Icon of SS Symeon Stylites and Cyriacos – S327

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Saint Symeon’s life (a.d. 390-459) was most wondrous.  From a Syrian peasant family, he entered a monastery before he was 16, but he was so ascetic that the abbot asked him to leave.  Then he was guided by Christ to stand at first on a short pillar about 12 feet tall.  In time the pillars got taller until he established himself standing day and night on the top of a pillar over 45 feet tall in what is now Qalaat Semaan, Syria between Antioch and Aleppo.  There he fasted completely the entire Great Lent each year and stood for 37 years without sitting or lying down.  He made thousands of prostrations each day.  In time crowds of people came to see him and he answered their requests for advice, from emperors to simple shepherds.  Humble, meek, unbending towards himself, yet merciful to others, Saint Symeon redefined the ascetic life.

Saint Cyriacos, when 18, also entered a monastery.  He was very strong physically, and fasted strictly, performing many ascetical feats, and speaking out against heresies.  He lived in the monasteries of Saints Euthymios, Gerasim, and Chariton in Palestine.  After a full life, he passed to Eternal Life with Christ in a.d. 557.

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Dionysiou Monastery, Mt. Athos, Greece