August 14, 2015

Holy New Martyr Symeon the Goldsmith from Trebizond (+ 1653)


For Symeon hanging was a step,
To enter Heaven by means of a plane tree.

Saint Symeon was from Trebizond, but at an early age he left for Constantinople, where he worked as a goldsmith. One day, while walking through a Jewish neighborhood with two other Orthodox Christians, they encountered a tall Jewish man. One of the companions of Symeon, who was short, made fun of him, so the tall Jewish man picked him up and began walking with him. The Christian in turn pulled out a knife and stabbed the Jewish man who, because he was slightly drunk, apparently did not feel the wound immediately. But he put down the Christian and walked away. It was then that the blood from the wound began flowing and the pain manifested itself.

A group of Jews and Christians shortly after gathered to attend to the Jewish man, among whom was Symeon. Then Symeon, according to his biographer, made the following remark: "And what significance is it if a Jew dies?" (The biographer, John Karyophyllis (+ 1692), explains that Symeon made this remark because the Jews harbored malice against the Christians in Constantinople). This remark was heard by some Jews, who turned around and accused him of stabbing the Jewish giant. They then took him to the Turkish grand vizier, who held Symeon in prison to wait for the outcome of the wound inflicted on the Jew.

Forty days passed and the Jewish man recovered. Symeon was in turn released from prison and forced to pay two hundred and eighty grosia as compensation for the medical expenses. Unfortunately, however, the wounded man died ten days later, despite having appeared recovered. Symeon was thus arrested once more.

Symeon was brought before the Turkish judge, where he was pressured to deny Christ and convert to Islam in order to save his life. However, Symeon would not compromise his faith to save his life. He said to the judge: "Even if you inflict upon me ten thousand tortures, I will not separate myself from the faith and love of my Lord and God Jesus Christ." Therefore, the judge ordered Symeon to die by hanging from a plane tree in Constantinople, on the 14th of August in 1653, sealing his love and testimony for our Lord Jesus Christ with his life.