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The Tomahawk

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11 – 12 Days of Christmas

11 - 12 Days of Christmas

“On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, eleven pipers piping.” The eleventh day of Christmas is the feast day of St. Simeon the Stylite in the tradition of the early Church (also celebrated January 5 and September 1 on different liturgical calendars). It is also the feast day of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, who is considered to be the first American-born saint.

St. Simeon’s faith was influenced by hearing the Beatitudes when he was a young boy in the early 4th century. Upon coming of age he sought out the monastic life and devoted himself to extreme self-denial and prayer. So disciplined and extreme was he in his sacrifice that he was found unfit for community life. St. Simeon then went to live as a hermit. When he went the whole of lent without food or drink, it was considered to be miraculous.

There were so many who sought him for prayer and advice that the only way in which to remove himself from people was to build a pillar upon which to live. He would become the first of the pillar hermits. His pillar became a pilgrimage site in which many sought from him spiritual counsel, intervention, and prayer. St. Simeon devoted his life to prayer and self-sacrifice but also gave exhortations twice daily and his words brought many conversions. A series of pillars were built with the last being at least 50 feet high. He lived upon a pillar for the last 37-40 years of his life.