The saint who lived on a pillar half his life

Venerable Alypius the Stylite, a pillar of endurance

Venerable Alypius the Stylite

The Christian Church venerates saint Alypius as ‘a pillar of endurance’ who imitated Job in suffering and is the boast of ascetics. He lived for 118 years, of which fifty-three he spent on a pillar, praying, preaching and battling with the demons. Fourteen of these he was paralysed. From his pillar, he directed the building of a church in honour of the Holy Martyr Euphemia and oversaw the establishment of two monasteries.

He began his ascetic exploits at a young age. His mother, a Christian who lost her husband early, gave away her estate and lived near a church as a deaconess. She sent her child to be raised and educated by the bishop of her diocese. He aspired to the life of a hermit, to which the bishop was not giving his blessing. As he was accompanying the bishop to Constantinople, he saw a vision of the Martyr Euphemia who commanded him to build a church in his honour at the site of a Pagan temple and cemetery in his hometown infested with the devils.

He followed his command, completing the church with donations from his fellow believers. Near the church, he built a pillar, where he lived for the next fifty-three years praying, struggling with the demons and offering spiritual guidance to those who asked. To have nothing stand between him and the demons, he removed the boards that shielded him from the wind and the elements. Impressed by his strength and endurance, the demons fled and never returned to the place made sacred by the saint’s martyrdom.

For the last fourteen years of his life, he directed the lives of two monasteries on either side of the pillar, despite being paralysed. He developed and introduced strict monastic rules which became models for other monasteries. His body was laid to rest in the church of Saint Euphemia that he had built. Healing powers are attributed to his relics.

December 09, 2021
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