November 10, 2016

Synaxarion of Saint Symeon the Metaphrastes

St. Symeon the Translator (Feast Day - November 9)


The Church owes you a debt of grace Symeon, 
On behalf of the translations of the Lives of the Saints.

Saint Symeon had Constantinople as his homeland, and he lived during the reign of the most revered Emperor Leo the Wise (886-912). Due to his virtue and wisdom, he was elevated to the office of Magistrate and Logothete, and he was honored very much by the emperor. When a fleet of Arab ships went to Crete, and they ravaged various villages and castles, the emperor appointed the great Himerios to be the commander, and with him sent Saint Symeon the Metaphrastes to be a representative to the Arabs, who were terrorizing Crete. To these two was given the authority, either to become subject for the good to the rule of the Arabs, or to obliterate them with war chariots. These things are narrated by the Metaphrastes himself, who wrote the Life of Saint Theoktiste of Lesvos, also celebrated on this day. So the emperor loved the Saint very much and honored him, not only for his wisdom and virtue, but also for his natural bravery and suitability and experience, which he had in war, except that the renowned Symeon did not have a passionate attachment to such vain things. Rather from long before he contemplated abandoning worldly things in order to become a monastic. He therefore said to the emperor, that if he returned a victor from Crete, that he would do him a favor that he would ask. The emperor promised, intending unambiguously to fulfill what he asked. Thus he went to Crete with Himerios, where he spoke as a representative before the Arab rulers, and he pleased them so much with the wisdom of his words, that he conquered them without a war, and he convinced the Arabs to pay an annual tax to the emperor.

Therefore they returned to Constantinople as victors, he venerated the emperor, and he asked him to grant him the favor as he promised. The emperor, not knowing what he would ask, gave his hand to Symeon and he kissed it (as was the custom), thinking that he was going to ask him for gold, or a greater honor, as those who love the world long for. But this lover of Christ, or rather lover of gold Symeon, did not ask for any other favor from the emperor, except to allow him to become a monk. This saddened the emperor, for he would be without such a wise and commanding man, but not wanting to transgress his promise, he embraced the divine Symeon with tears and kissed him, saying: "Go, my child, with the mercy of God. Entreat also on behalf of my sins."

Having become a monk and liberated from the confusion of the world, the Saint wrote as many Lives of the Saints as he could find. Then, since he was wealthy, and had the means and power, he sent men to various places to bring back to him as many Lives of Saints as they could find, which he translated into sweet phrases. For this reason he is called the "Translator" (Metaphrastes). And all that he wrote is true and without error, which even Italian teachers have translated into Italian. And this Saint Symeon is also celebrated in the Synaxaria of the Saints, for having labored so much on behalf of the Lord, and on behalf of His Saints. Dositheos, in his Dodekavivlos (p. 703), says that when Saint Symeon reposed, the wise Michael Psellos gave a eulogy on his behalf.