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Simeon Stylites church pictures

مار سمعان العمودي

From the Enc. Brittanica: born c. 390, , Sisan, Cilicia [near modern Aleppo, Syria], died 459, Telanissus, Syria. [He was] also called Simeon The Elder Syrian monk who was the first known stylite, or pillar hermit (from Greek stylos, “pillar”). He was called Simeon the Elder to distinguish him from a 6th-century stylite also named Simeon. A shepherd, Simeon entered a monastic community, but, because of his excessive austerities, he was expelled and became a hermit. His reputed miracle-working generated popular veneration to such a degree that, about 420, to escape the importunities of the people, he began his pillar life northwest of Aleppo. His first column was 6 feet (2 m) high, later extended to about 50 feet (15 m). He remained atop the column until his death, permanently exposed to the elements, standing or sitting day and night in his restricted area, protected from falling by a railing, and provided with a ladder to communicate with those below or to receive meagre gifts of food from disciples. Eventually his pillar became a pilgrimage site. Visitors sought spiritual counsel, relief from sickness, intervention for the oppressed, and enlightenment in prayer and doctrine. Simeon apparently converted many people, and he influenced the Eastern Roman emperor Leo I to support the orthodox Chalcedonian party during the 5th-century controversy over the nature of Christ. Simeon's reputation inspired ascetics, both men and women, to emulate and surpass his austerities, some stylites appearing as late as the 19th century in Russia.

Also called Qala'at Samaan the church was erected after Simeons death, and consists of four basilica's that converge in the form of a cross on a central domed part, where the remains of the pillar are still visible. One basilica would be used for service, the other housed the many pilgrims. It was finished in 491 and at the time the largest church in the world. Earlier that day I saw another church which, though smaller, was impressive by itself, as well as some other parts of what's called "Dead Cities". I paid a first visit (to both sites) in 2009, and then again in 2010. On the second visit I paid more attention to the fringe of the huge complex, first walking the south wall, taking in the views from there, then moving in to the basilica area.

You might want to see how they housed pilgrims in the monastery settlement downhill, then visit Deir Semaan. Or check out my gallery of the Monastery of St. Simeon the Younger near Antakya, Turkey.
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