ere followeth of Saint Simeon.
Saint Simeon was born in Antioch and was much virtuous, and from the time that he was in his mother's belly he was chosen of God, and when he was twelve years old he kept his father's sheep. And on a time he beheld the church, and anon, as he that was replenished with the Holy Ghost, left his sheep and went to the church. And he accompanied him with a good ancient man, and said to him in this manner: Fair father, what thing is that that is here read? I pray you enseign and teach it me for I am simple and ignorant. Then the good ancient man began to speak of the virtues of the soul, and how this poor present life ought to be despised, and nowithstanding that the virtues be accomplished of many truly and laudably, and by the help of God in religion they be accomplished more lightly. Then Saint Simeon fell to the feet of this good old man and said to him: Verily from hence forthon thou shalt be my father and my mother, for thou art master of good works, and after this good counsel I shall go into the church whereas God shall ordain for me. And then he expounded to him the rule and order of religion and told him how he must have much pain and affliction, and him behoved to have much patience and perseverance. Then anon he took leave of him, and went to the church of Saint Timothy, and Iaid him tofore the gate and abode there three days and three nights without meat or drink. Then the abbot came and lifted him up and demanded Therefore he was come thither. Then Saint Simeon answered to him and said: I desire much to be servant of our Lord, I pray thee that thou receive me into thy monastery, and that thou command me to serve all thy brethren. He was received of the abbot, and was there six months obeying to the brethren humbly. When the others fasted from morn to evensong time, he after seven days took his refection, and the other days he gave his provender to poor people. On a time he came to the pit of the place, and found there a cord, which he took and bound fast about his body from his reins to his shoulders; he strained so sore and fast that his flesh rotted under the cord so much that the cords went to the bones, and unnethe might the cord be seen. On a day one of the brethren apperceived that he gave his meat unto the poor people. He and the others told it to the abbot, and also they said that so great a stench issued out of his body that none might abide by him, and that the vermin that came out of it had filled all his bed. The abbot was much angry and bade him despoil him naked, and when he saw the cord he escried, saying: O man, from whence comest thou? Me seemeth that thou wilt destroy the rule of our religion, when thou wilt not serve God by discretion as others do. I pray thee depart hence and go where thou wilt. With great pain they took off the cord with which he was bounden and healed him. After, he departed from the place without witting of any of them, and entered into a pit in desert without water, whereas wicked spirits dwelled. That night the abbot had a revelation that a great multitude of men of arms had environed the abbey and said with a high voice: Give to us the man of God or else we shall burn thee and all the abbey, for thou hast driven away the man just and debonair. The abbot told this to his brethren, and the next night came the semblable vision. He was all abashed and sent his monks for to search and fetch him, and they found him not. Then the abbot went with them and they came to the pit and there made their prayers, and descended therein, and brought him again by force to the abbey. The brethren of the abbey kneeled tofore him, and asked him forgiveness. And after, he abode a whole year, and after, secretly he departed again and went unto a mountain of stones fast by a cloister and dwelled so three years. Then his neighbours came thither by devotion and enhanced his pillar four cubits of height, and there he dwelled seven years after, and after, they made to him another of twelve cubits of height, in which he dwelled, and after that they made another of twenty cubits, and after that another of thirty, and there he abode four years, and beside him he did do make two chapels, and many sick men were healed by his virtue, and he converted many Saracens to the faith. After this, his thigh rotted a whole year, and all that year he held him on that other foot, but the vermin fell to the ground from his thigh. He had a fellow which was called Anthony, which wrote his life and held him company, which gathered up the vermin and delivered them to him, and he took them and laid them upon his sore, saying: Eat ye this that God hath given you.
There was a king, a Saracen, named Basilike that heard the fame and renown of him, and came to him in very faith, and whiles the holy man prayed, one of the vermin fell out of his thigh, and the heathen king took it up, and when he looked on it, it was a precious stone. Then said to him this holy man: O man this is not happened ne made by my merit, but it is made by thy faith, and then he thanked God and departed.
Seven years after, his mother came and would visit him, but it was forbidden her, for no woman might enter into that place. Then the holy man said to his mother: Abide a little and we shall see you if it please God, and she weeping three days and four nights received her son, and then it happed that she slept, and the holy man prayed for her and she died. After this there was made to him another pillar of forty cubits, whereon he dwelled seven years after, that is to wit unto his death.
In which time there was a dragon right venomous which was in a cave nigh to him, which infected so the place that nothing grew about him. In whose right eye it happed that a stake entered, and he came all blind to the door of the monastery and lay there as to ask help. He set his right eye by the pillar, and was there three days without doing any harm to anybody. Then commanded Saint Simeon that they should take earth and lay water on it, and lay it thereupon. And when they had so done, anon issued out of his eyes a stake of a cubit long, and when the people saw this miracle they glorified God. But notwithstanding they fled for dread that they had of the dragon, and the dragon abode there till all the people were gone. Then he arose and adored at the gate of the monastery almost two hours, and after went in to his cave without doing harm to anybody.
Another time a woman drank out of a cruse by night wherein was a little serpent, and it avaled down into her body, wherefore she went to divers medicine and physicians, but it availed to her nothing. Many years after, she was brought to this holy man, the which commanded to take of the earth and water and lay it on the mouth of the woman, and anon the serpent issued out, which was three cubits long, and anon cleft asunder, which was hanged up there the space of seven days, many men seeing it.
On another time many folk and beasts died for default of water, and at his prayer suddenly the earth opened, and there was found a pit of right good water for to drink, which endureth unto this day.
Another time other people abode long while he was in his prayer, and went a little aback under the shadow of a tree, and they saw a hart pass by, whom they commanded thus, saying: We conjure thee by the prayers of Saint Simeon that thou tarry a while, and so he did, and they took him and slew him, and as they ate of him they became lepers and mesels. Then they went with the skin unto Saint Simeon and were there two years, and unnethe might they be healed, and for witness thereof they hung up the skin of the hart.
There was a leopard there about, which destroyed the people of the country. Then this holy man commanded to take of the water of that monastery and to sprinkle it on the ground all about whereas he went, and when they had so done, anon after they found the leopard dead. He exhorted all them that he knew that they should not swear by him, humble sinner, nevertheless all they of the Orient, and the barbarians of that country sware by him.
There was a thief named Jonathas, which was chased of many knights, and he entered into the monastery and embraced the pillar, and began to weep. Then Saint Simeon demanded what he was, and he answered: I am Jonathas the thief, that am come hither to do penance; and anon came thither the officers of Antioch, and said to this holy man: Give us this evil man, for the beasts be ready to devour him. Then Saint Simeon answered: I may not, for I doubt that he that sent him to me, which is greater than ye, will be wroth. And seven days long he embraced the pillar, and after, said to the holy man: If thou wilt I will go my way. Then he said to him: Wilt thou go yet for to do harm? He answered: Nay sir, but my time is accomplished. And so saying he gave up his soul and died.
And Saint Simeon inclined down to make his prayer like as he had been accustomed, and the people abode him three days for to have his blessing. Then Anthony came to him saying: Arise up, sir, and give us thy blessing; and he went, and heard him not drawing his breath, but an odour as of a precious ointment issued out of his body. Then he began to weep strongly, kissing his eyes and his beard, and said: Alas, sir! why hast thou forsaken me? I never heard thy doctrine angelic, what answer shall I give to the sick people that shall require thee? Ne of what covering shall I cover thy body? And there by force of heaviness fell asleep. Then appeared to him this holy man, saying: I shall not leave this house ne this holy mountain in which I have been enlumined, but go down and sanctify and appease the people, and show in Antioch that I am in rest. And cease not thou to serve God in this place here, and God shall render and give to thee a good reward. Then he awoke, and began strongly to weep again, in saying: What relics shall I take of thee, sir, in remembrance of thee? Then he removed the body much strongly, and then had Anthony much more dread, and durst not touch him, but went down anon, and went unto Antioch to the bishop, and told him of the death of this holy man, and anon he came with three other bishops and the master of the knights of the town, and hung curtains about the pillar, and bare his body by the altar tofore the pillar. And anon the birds assembled about the pillar and Rew like as they would have asked their meat, and cried so strongly that men and beasts enforced them to cry and weep at the voice of the birds. The mountains and the fields showed signs of heaviness, so that the complaint was heard seven miles, and there came thereabout a cloud black and dark, and Anthony saw an angel come from heaven for to visit, which had his face clear as fire, and his vestments white as snow. And about ten of the clock he saw seven ancient men that spake to him, but he knew not the mystery that they said. The prelate of Antioch would have had his beard to put in his relics, and as soon as he put his hand for to take it, anon his hand was dry, but they made there so many prayers for him that he was healed. Then bare they the body into Antioch, and the bishop sware that never person should have nothing of his body. When they were come into a street, that was called Merce, five miles from Antioch, the body abode there, so that no man might move it.
A man that had been deaf and dumb the space of forty years because he had defiled a woman in his house, which woman loved him not, he came and fell down tofore the bier suddenly, and began to cry and say: Ah! man and servant of God, thou art welcome to point for me, for thy coming hath guerished me and given to me health. Then he arose and took one of the staves that bare the bier and anon was all whole, and served him all the days of his life. Anon issued out of the town all the people of Antioch, and received the body much solemnly in singing, psalmonising and glorifying God, and with great plenty of lights burning, bare the body into the great church, which is called the church of penance. Many other miracles hath our Lord showed at his sepulchre, and more were showed after than tofore by his life. Then let us pray to this holy Saint Simeon that he pray for us unto our Lord that he have mercy on us. Amen.