St. Simon Stylites: Dragon Veterinarian

Well, now that I know that the Greek “drakon” was seen as being a sort of big python snake, this kind of story makes a lot more sense! So as part of my continuing research into Good Christian Dragons, I present this story that shows both a saint healing a dragon, and that snakes trust saints as Adam-like stewards of Creation.

St. Simon Stylites is a pretty well-documented guy; he was a Byzantine celebrity, even. He lived alone in the ruins of an old Greco-Roman city, on a little railed platform he built on top of an 80-foot-high pillar. (There isn’t much left of it.) So mostly he stayed on top of the pillar, although occasionally he would come down his ladder and stand on the base of the pillar to do things or speak to someone. Technically he was a hermit, but the place was always getting swarmed by visitors, so he ended up becoming a sort of hermit/preacher/advice guy. He let men come inside the little wall around his pillar and come up the ladder to his platform, so he even had disciples come up there to learn from him.

From Chapter 10 of the Latin translation of the Vita S. Simeon Stylites (PL 73, 330, 7-24):

“In this time an exceedingly large dragon dwelt near [St. Simon Stylites] in northern parts, where no grass grew; and a stick got stuck in its right eye. And behold, that blind dragon came and drew near to the little dwelling where the man of God was staying, dragging itself along; it lay there with its head abased and its body all curled around itself in a ring, as if asking for a favor. On seeing this, Blessed Simeon immediately removed a cubit-long stick from its eye. And on seeing this, everyone glorified God, yet fled from it in awe. But the beast coiled up around itself and remained immobile in one place until all the people had passed. Then getting up, it adored the monastery doorway* for almost two hours and then went back to its den; and it hurt no one.”

* The door in the little wall around the pillar.


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Filed under Good Christian Dragons, Patristics, Saint Stories, Translations

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