cult of St Felix would not have flourished without Paulinus whose education and wealth enabled him to promote, in word and in stone, the cult of a local martyr, dead for at least a century, for whom he felt great personal affinity.

The popularity of Symeon the Stylite's (c. 389-459) cult in Syria, by contrast, depended less on its posthumous promotion by enterprising individuals than on the large number of grateful admirers from all over the world during his lifetime. After he had gained some experience as a monk, Symeon became the sole resident of a hillside 75 km northeast of Antioch where he positioned himself on a succession of three ever-taller pillars. He spent the last decades of his life on a small platform, at a maximum height of 16.5 m, without shelter and exposed to the elements. Scholars in search of continuities with pagan practices have noted that it was not uncommon in this region for religiously motivated men to live a life of isolation on top of pillars or tall pillar-shaped phalloi.19 One of Symeon's biographers has his own explanation for this novel form of ascetic bravado and his elevated position: 'he longs to soar to heaven and leave this earthly sojourn'.20

In spite of his remote location, Symeon's interaction with people secured his popularity: for several hours every day, he settled disputes and dispensed advice to those who came to see him. His prayers brought healings and exorcisms, but his miraculous abilities could also have a dark side when he punished wrongdoers. He even intervened, by letter, with the emperor Theodosius II to make him rescind an order to the Christians to pay retribution to the Jews. Several monks and priests lived in a community on the hilltop and tended to the needs of Symeon and the crowds of visitors, and there was a thriving town with at least one monastery at the base of the mountain.

Symeon's cult was seemingly spontaneous and almost immediate. Already during his lifetime, the people who visited his column came from all over the world and included non-Christians.21 Although women benefited from his miracles at a distance and tookpart in his funeral, Symeon did not permit them to enter his enclosure. Even his mother was turned away with the promise of a reunion in the hereafter. She died that same night and was then buried at the foot of his column.22

Symeon's protective ability knew no bounds. The dust from the base of his pillar was collected and pressed into moulds, to generate small pilgrim tokens that carried the image of the holy man atop his column. These could serve as

19 D. Frankfurter, 'Stylites and Phallobates'.

20 Theodoret, History of the monks in Syria 26.12.

22 Life of Symeon the Stylite 14.

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