St. Shemoun (Simeon) of Qartmin
Feast Day: January 19
Mor Simeon was born in Qartmin. His father was a leader of the village. When he was four years and seven months old he was healed through the prayers of Mor Samuel. When he grew up as a young boy his father took him to the saint and he was ordained a monk.
The angel of the Lord appeared to him as his Abbot and showed him the plan of the future monastery which was laid down on the foundation of a pagan temple.
During the departure of Mor Samuel (409), his teacher went to his heavenly abode, he took over the administration of the monastery. He was strong in battle with Satan. He was awake in his service. He served more than his brother monks. God honored his by performing miracles and wonders. The author of his story tells us the following:
"After the death of the aged Mor Samuel, Mor Simeon did not sleep on the earth. He rested on his knees. He loved night vigils and in order to defeat sleep he hung himself upright by ropes. He would then continue in his meditation giving glory and praise to his Lord. Our Lord gave him power and strength and he performed many wonders and miracles and paralytics were made whole.
There were some wonders that happened in his day which are the following:
In the year seven hundred and twenty three of the Greeks (AD 411/12) in which Rabbulla took his seat on the Episcopal throne of Edessa, he collected gold from the Edessenes, and came to the Blessed Mor Simeon and was blessed by him. But the saint would not take any of the gold. He said to him, "0 Father Bishop, it is enough for us that you have given yourself the trouble of coming to see our sinful person. May Christ not cheat you of the reward for your labor and may that which you have brought to be recorded in the Book of Life before God."
He stayed with him for six months then he went back to Edessa. With the gold that he brought back with him he built the church of Mor Stephen the Martyr, which had formerly been a Jewish Synagogue.
Now a feverish epidemic broke out amongst the inhabitants of the region surrounding the abbey. So fatal that they were
unable to bury the victims of it. They putrefied for the lack of a grave digger. Great numbers of people got together and presented themselves to the saint. They petitioned him concerning the epidemic and compelled him to go with them. So he arose and took with him ten brethren: Cyrus, Abraham, John, Stephen, Maron, Abay, Zuto, Daniel, George, and Ammi.
The brethren went around all the villages singing psalms and praises to God. The time that had passed since the plague began in the region was from 14 September until the 20th of October. Men of low and high station died, five thousand in number.
A certain man stole a sum of money and hid it. When the morning dawned the rightful owners went to the thief but he maintained with many oaths that he had no knowledge of the matter.
"Swear to us by the contest of Mor Simeon," they challenged him, "that you did not take that which was ours and go free." But hardly had he opened his mouth to swear the oath than his head was turned backwards in full sight of all. Immediately he returned the whole sum of money to its owners. Then his people took him to the holy Mor Simeon. All night the Blessed One stood and interceded for that man. When his prayer came to an end the head of the man returned to its natural position. Then Mor Simeon warned him, "Never commit such thefts again and do not swear oaths falsely, lest something worse than this should happen to you." The man stayed for a little while then went home. But afterwards he came back to the abbey and became a perfect monk and worker of miracles for men.
One of the brothers went one day to the village in the vicinity of the monastery to the South on the business of the community and went in the house of the man to whom he was sent. This man had only one daughter who was a virgin as yet and was beautiful to behold, a girl of 15 years. Now the brother was 32 years old.
The Christians whose house the monk went into had prepared a meal for him. He was unwilling to spend the night with them but they swore by the contest of Mor Simeon that he should stay. He, fearing the oath, went into the house. After the two had eaten, wine was brought to him and they drank and made merry.
"Master," said the Christian to the monk, "Give us a sample of the spiritual chanting you do in the church." Emboldened with the wine, the brother burst into powerful sound. He had a fine voice for singing and a handsome figure. His face was attractive and his speech was sweet.
Satan made the girl's heart yearn for the monk. She arose quickly, put on some beautiful clothes that she owned and came to sit with the monk.
"Father," she said to him, "I want to be blessed by your prayers." Now the brother thought to himself, "She is doing this out of faith."
After a while they all went to bed. The girl , once her parents were lying in a powerful slumber came and lay down beside the brother.
"Get away from here" he ordered her, "before your parents discover us and bring shame on us."
"Don't be afraid" she said. "It is they who sent me to you."
The brother said to her, "I have a master, Mor Simeon who has knowledge of secret things. If I should sin with you he would expel me from the monastery. As for you, your parents and family would kill you." The girl said to him, "You do as you will. If Mor Simeon expels you come and be my husband and I shall be your wife."
Now that brother had with him a sack which he left outside the room where he was lying. "Go outside!" he told her. "Bring me the Gospel Book from the sack and swear to me you will reveal the secret to no one. Then I shall do as you will. "
But as soon as the girl went out to fetch the Gospel he bolted the door between himself and her.
The girl had a neighbor who yearned for even for one glimpse of her face but she never showed it to him. Now under the sway of her awakened desire she went the same night and spoiled her body in fornication with him. Then she came and called her parents saying, "Get up and see this monk who has spoiled me and taken my maidenhead. I give notice to warn you. Look he is in the inner room and I have bolted the door in his face so he cannot escape."
They arose and all three took a lighted lamp but the monk was found radiant as an angel. Reverence for the dignity of
his habit prevented them from rebuking him in anger. Instead they kept calm and said to him, "Stand up, monk, and take our daughter. Go wherever you will but let us never see your face again. Let the shame of your deed be sufficient punishment."
There and then in the depths of the night the pair of them went out in tears being shed on both sides. Mor Simeon knew what had happened before they came to the monastery and went out the same night to meet them. He came upon
them outside the gate of the abbey. The monk took hold of the hem of his garment.
The saint wiped away that brother's tears and said to him, "Welcome to the victor who wrestled and won. Desire did not defeat him, that one who has beaten the bravest."
But the brother wept and said, "Forgive me, Father, for I have been the cause of injury to the handmaiden of Christ."
The girl then spoke to the saint, "I ask you servant of the Lord, do not destroy me, sinner that I am, that I should go to hell in my sins. Rather accept my repentance, and I shall confess my sins before your Lord."
The saint put the girl in the brother's cell there she dwelt until the birth of her son. When she had given birth to the child, she took it to a village to be raised there. She provided as much as they required for his keep.
All she ate in the days before she gave birth were soaked pulses compounded into loaves. After the birth she dug herself a cave in the ground and went in it, refusing all food except grass and wild herbs. The only face she would see was that of Mor Simeon. There was no door into the cave but there was a little window. At this window she would take her food and from time to time the Body and Blood of Christ.
But it was God's will that the hidden treasure be revealed. This same girl, when she was in her parents house possessed a gorgeous cloth. Her mother would fondle this cloth and wept in sorrow for her daughter. So long did she weep that the light of her eyes was taken from her. The father became a cripple. So they asked that the young man who had deflowered the girl to take them to Mor Simeon that they might be healed.
Now this young man had certain enemies who went out after him. When the young man and the old couple had nearly reached the monastery they laid hold of the young man and killed him. News of the murder came to the monks in the monastery who went and fetched them, the blind old woman, the cripple, and the dead man. The monks supplicated Mor Simeon asking him to heal them and they asked permission to bury the dead man.
Then it was revealed to the saint that the truth about the girl should come to light. He summoned her with the living Word of God to come out of the cave, and she emerged in public, clothed as a monk. The saint made a sign to her about healing her father and mother and she in her humility did not oppose the Word of her summons. Rather, she spoke as follows addressing her prayer to God:
"Oh Lord, Good Physician, by the prayers and the contest of Mor Simeon may these people he healed." They were both healed. She prayed again and the dead man came to life.
Once restored to the life, the man who was dead confessed his offence, saying, "These people who have been healed had a daughter, a virgin, whom I deflowered. Her parents put the blame on a certain monk who was sleeping in their house, although he had no part in the violation. I never saw the girl again."
The saint then said to the young woman's parents, What is it that this man is saying? They relied, "As to his role in the affair we know nothing of it. But the case of our daughter was such and such. And they told the whole story of the brother.
The Blessed One said to them, "This monk who healed you and raised up the dead man is your daughter."
Now her parents knew by a mark which she had on he right side and by this mark they recognized her.
Then that brother came and swore, "I have never seen your daughter's face since the night 1 lodged with you until now."
Three days later the blessed girl died. For three days and nights they offered prayers for her. The people of her village heard and came to be present, about two thousand men and women. They begged the holy Mor Simeon for the body of the blessed woman. He gave them permission to take it in honor and with ceremony to their village.
As the dead man who came back to life, he received instruction and became an excellent monk.
St. Simeon of Qartmin accepted the invitation of his Lord on January 19, 433. His body was buried in Beth Qadishe (the tombs of saints).
The above selected article was taken from Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch - Archdiocese of the Western United States.