April 19, 2018

Saint Symeon the Barefoot and Single-Tunicked, Abbot of the Monastery of Philotheou (+ 1594)

St. Symeon the Barefoot, Founder of Flamourion Monastery (Feast Day - April 19)


Blessed Symeon walked barefoot,
Who mortally stomped on the serpent.

Our Venerable Father Symeon the Barefoot and Single-Tunicked was the son of a priest, and from the age of fifteen he was under the spiritual care of Bishop Pachomios of Demetriada, in the region of Larissa. Bishop Pachomios tonsured him a monk and ordained him a hierodeacon. In order to learn the strict monastic life, Symeon soon departed to a monastery near Mount Olympus, and from there went to the Great Lavra of Saint Athanasios the Athonite on Mount Athos. There, his humility and zealous obedience gained him the respect of the brethren, and he was ordained a hieromonk.

When the venerable one transferred to the Monastery of Philotheou, he increased his God-pleasing efforts, and becoming an example to the brethren, earned their love and was unanimously chosen to be the abbot of the monastery. Later, as the result of the insidious and cunning devices of the hater of good, Saint Symeon had to endure the unjust dissatisfaction of monks who were weak in spirit. Leaving it to the will of God to judge the guilty, Symeon left the monastery without complaint, and went to Mount Flamourion in Zagora of Thessaly.

At Mount Flamourion he found an apple tree, where he dwelt for three years under extreme hardship. There, in isolation and silence, constantly standing or kneeling in prayer, the holy solitary waged interior battle. Three years later, he was found by people who loved God, and filled with reverence for his manner of life, besought him to allow them to live together with him. Over the course of seven years, through the efforts and dedication of Saint Symeon, an entire monastery gradually came into being. A church dedicated to the Most Holy Trinity was erected, and there the venerable one served the Divine Liturgy every day.

Once the life of the brotherhood in the Flamourion Monastery became well-established, the wise elder left the monastery, and began to preach the word of God in Epirus, Thessaly, and Athens. Through his teachings and instruction the Saint steadied those wavering in faith, directed to the path of salvation those who had lost their way, strengthened those firm in the faith, taught everyone to love one another and to honor Sundays and other Feast Days by attending the churches of God. His daring elicited the envious hatred of the enemies of the Christian faith. In Evia, Saint Symeon was slandered before Aianos, the Turkish governor, with the charge that he forced Turks to adopt Christianity. The Saint was seized and condemned to be burned to death in a public execution.

However, God’s Providence did not allow injustice to triumph. At the inquiry, to which the condemned man was brought in chains, barefoot and in an old monastic garb, Saint Symeon, inspired by the Holy Spirit, answered the ruler’s questions so wisely that Aianos was unable to pronounce the death sentence. The Saint was given his freedom, and continued his spiritual struggle, confirming the message of the Christianity by working healings and miracles. Many people followed Saint Symeon, and gave him their complete obedience. He accepted everyone, blessing them to become monastics, and sending them to his monastery.

The Venerable Symeon’s service ended in Constantinople. He peacefully went to the Lord in 1594, and was buried with honor, by the Patriarch himself, in Halki, in the Church of the Most Holy Theotokos. Two years later, the monks of the Flamourion Monastery decided to translate the holy relics of their founder to the monastery. When they opened his coffin, a sweet fragrance poured forth, and immediately miracles began to occur. The Finding of the Holy Skull of Saint Symeon is celebrated on August 22. The Life of Saint Symeon, and a Divine Office to him, were published in Smyrna in 1646.