Monday, May 24, 2010
St. Simeon Stylite
Simeon Stylite - Terry Nelson 2010
6 x 12 acrylic on canvas
Another painting of an icon depicting a type of early ascetic. A type of stylite monks descended from this saint, the first recorded to have lived an ascetic life atop a pillar. According to early accounts the reason Simeon adopted the life of a pillar ascetic was to avoid the crush of people who sought his prayers and advice. Since he couldn't flee to a more remote spot, he ascended. The pillar was raised over time to sixty feet, holding a twelve foot square platform, surrounded by a balustrade. The saint's meager ration of food was raised by basket, while the needs of nature were said to have been relieved off the side as needed. The saint is said to have lived thirty-six years atop the column.
Luis Bunuel made a film based upon the saint's life. An atheist, Bunuel was impressed with the authentic, albeit radical faith of the early desert saints. In his film he pulls together much of the wisdom expressed by the writings of the early desert fathers, creating a remarkably accurate depiction of the spiritual combat engaged in by the early ascetics. Interestingly enough, the film ends with the saint transported into modern society amidst a noisy disco. It is a scene at once evocative of some of the temptations of the early desert fathers, as well reminiscent early prophecies regarding monastic life in the later times, not to mention the secular intellectualism which seemed to dominate institutionalized monasticism after the Council.