The saint who repeated the feat of Saint Simeon the Stylite

Saint Daniel, a pillar-dweller who dispersed the darkness of error

December 24, 2021

Saint Daniel the Stylite

With his life, he taught us that we serve God in multiple ways, and it is up to us to decide how to serve Him best by leading a spiritual life. Saint Daniel chose his by repeating the great feat of his teacher, Simeon the Stylite, who lived in his pillar for over thirty years. As a stylite, he gave sermons, provided spiritual advice, brought healing to the sick, and even counselled the emperors of Byzantine and the Patriarch of Constantinople.

He was born in 409 to a couple who had had no children for many years. His mother had pledged him to God. His father and mother expected God to name him, so he lived without a name until five years of age. Finally, they took him to a priest who opened a minaion at random and named him in honour of the Prophet Daniel. At twelve, he left his home in secret to join a monastery. His family welcomed the news, but the boy did not receive tonsure until he convinced the hegumen that he was ready for it. He stayed at the monastery until age 42. There, he distinguished himself by his exceptional piety and multiple ascetic deeds and acquired by the grace of God miracle-working and healing powers. At 42, he left the monastery to travel to Jerusalem and visited saint Simeon the Stylite on his way and lived with him for two weeks and returned to Constantinople. There, he performed his first miracles. He drove the demons from a church and healed the patriarch by his prayers.

Nine years later, he had a vision of Saint Simeon the Stylite. An angel bore him up to his teacher standing on a pillar in the clouds. Saint Simeon embraced him and declared, "Stand firm, play the man." Like saint Simeon, he settled on a pillar built for him in Constantinople and lived there for thirty-three years.

Over these years, he received scores of visitors. He healed the sick and gave blessings. Among his visitors were the emperor, the patriarch and multiple members of the imperial court. With his gift of eloquence, he guided many to the true faith. In thirty-three years, he left the pillar only once, to counsel the emperor on the perils of falling into the Monophysite faith and guide its influential opponents back into Orthodoxy. He died in 493, in peace, on the pillar, in his eightieth year. He is glorified by the Church as a saint who illumined the world with his venerable deeds dispersed the darkness of error.

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