July 21, 2010

Miracles of St. Symeon the Fool in the City of Emesa

St. Symeon the Fool for Christ and his companion John (Feast Day - July 21)

By Leontios, Bishop of Neapolis

- Once when a large earthquake was about to seize the city, when Antioch fell, during the time of the faithfully departed Emperor Maurice - for it was then that the saint came down from the desert into the inhabited world - he grabbed a whip from a school and began to strike the pillars and say to each one, "Your master says, 'Remain standing!'" And when the earthquake came, none of the pillars which he struck fell down. However he also went up to one pillar and said to it, "You neither fall nor stand!" And it was split from top to bottom and bent over a bit and stayed that way. No one figured out what the blessed one had done, but everyone said that he struck the pillars because he was out of his mind.

- Once when a plague was about to come upon the city, he went around to all the schools and began to kiss the children, saying to each of them, as in jest, "Farewell, my dear." He did not kiss all of them, but only those whom the grace of God made known to him. And he said to the teacher at each school, "In God's name, idiot, do not thrash the children whom I kiss, for they have a long way to go." The teachers mocked him, sometimes giving him a whipping; sometimes also the teacher nodded to the children and they ridiculed him publicly. When the plague came, not one of the children whom Abba Symeon had kissed remained alive, but they all died.

- It was the saint's habit to enter into the houses of the wealthy and clown around, often even pretending to fondle their female slaves. For example, one day a certain circus faction member had got a slave girl of one of the notables pregnant. The slave girl did not want to expose the one who fornicated with her, and when her mistress asked her who had seduced her, the slave girl said, "Symeon the Fool raped me." Therefore when he came into the house, according to his custom, the girl's mistress said to him, "Well, Abba Symeon, so you seduced my slave and got her pregnant." And immediately he laughed and hid his head in his right hand and said to her, while at the same time squeezing his five fingers, "Leave me alone, leave me alone, wretch, soon she will give birth for you, and you will have a little Symeon!" Until her day arrived, Abba Symeon kept bringing her wheat bread, meat, and pickled fish, and said, "Eat, my wife." When the time and the hour for her to give birth came, she struggled in child-birth for three days and almost died. Then her mistress said to the Fool, "Pray, Abba Symeon, for your wife cannot give birth." He said to her, dancing and clapping his hands, "By Jesus, by Jesus, wretch, the child won't come out from there until she says who its father is." When the girl in danger heard this she said, "I slandered him. The child belongs to so-and-so of the circus faction." Immediately then she gave birth. And while all were amazed, some in the house believed he was a saint, while others said once again, "He prophesied this because of the Devil, since he is a complete imbecile."

- The all-wise Symeon's whole goal was this: first, to save souls, whether through afflictions which he sent them in ludicrous or methodical ways, or through miracles which he performed while seeming not to understand, or through maxims which he said to them while playing the fool; and second, that his virtue not be known, and he receive neither approval nor honor from men.

For example, one day when some little girls were dancing and singing satiric songs, he got the idea to pass through that street. When they saw him, they began to lampoon monks. The righteous one prayed, wishing to make them learn, and immediately God made all of them cross-eyed. And when they began to tell each other the bad thing which had happened to them, they knew that it was Symeon who had made them cross-eyed, and they ran after him, and they cried, "Loose us, Fool, loose us!" For they thought he had made them squint with a spell. When they caught up to him, they seized him with force and they commanded the one who, they said, bound them to loose them. Then he said to them, joking, "You will be cured of such things; I will kiss your crossed eyes and heal them." Then all of them, said the saint, whom God wanted to be healed, consented, but the rest did not let him kiss them, and they stayed cross-eyed and wailed. Then a little while after he left them, the others began to run after him and cry, "Wait, Fool, wait! By God, wait! Kiss us too!" One can just see the monk running with the young girls behind him! And some people said they were playing with him, while others thought that the girls too had been driven insane. Thus they remained permanently unhealed. For the saint said, "Unless God had made them cross-eyed, they would have exceeded all the women of Syria in debauchery. But through the disease of their eyes they gave up all their evil."

- Sometimes when Sunday came, he took a string of sausages and wore them as a (deacon's) stole. In his left hand he held a pot of mustard, and he dipped (the sausages in the mustard) and ate them from morning on. And he smeared mustard on the mouths of some of those who came to joke with him. Wherefore also a certain rustic, who had leucoma in his two eyes, came to make fun of him. Symeon anointed his eyes with mustard. The man was nearly burned to death, and Symeon said to him, "Go wash, idiot, with vinegar and garlic, and you will be healed immediately." As it seemed a better thing to do, he ran immediately to a doctor instead and was completely blinded. Finally, in a mad rage he swore in Syriac, "By the God of Heaven, even if my two eyes should suddenly leap (from their sockets), I will do whatever the Fool told me." And he washed himself as Symeon told him. Immediately his eyes were healed, clear as when he was born, so that he honored God. Then the Fool came upon him and said to him, "Behold, you are healed, idiot! Never again steal your neighbor's goats."

- Symeon had extraordinary compassion for those possessed by demons, so that from time to time he went off to make himself like one of them, and passed his time with them, healing many of them through his own prayer, and therefore some demoniacs cried out and said, "O violence, Fool, you jeer at the whole world. Have you also come by us to give us trouble? Retreat from here; you are not one of us. Why do you torture us all night long and burn us?"

While the saint was there (in Emesa), he cried out against many because of the Holy Spirit and reproached thieves and fornicators. Some he faulted, crying that they had not taken communion often, and others he reproached for perjury, so that through his inventiveness he nearly put an end to sinning in the whole city.

To read the complete life of St. Symeon the Fool for Christ by Leontios, bishop of Neapolis, follow the link to the translation here.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
O God of our Fathers, ever dealing with us according to Thy gentleness: take not Thy mercy from us, but by their entreaties guide our life in peace.

Kontakion in the Second Tone
With faith and love let us acclaim angelic and God-bearing Symeon who, though in the flesh, appeared as one without flesh and shone supernaturally with virtues; and with him let us praise renowned John, for they intercede with the Lord unceasingly for us all.