As is indicated by the inscription in Greek at top left, this icon depicts St Simeon Stylites.

St Simeon the Elder (392-459), a Syrian monk, was given the name Stylites because he chose to live his life as a hermit on top of a column (stylos, in Greek), where he spent the rest of his days without ever coming down, without any protection from the sun or weather. He was given food in a basket pulled up by a rope.

Believers came to visit him during his life. A large pilgrimage structure, called Qalaat Semaan (north-west of Aleppo), was subsequently built around his column. Other saints, such as Simeon the Younger (521-596), lived like him on top of a column, or at the top of a tree. The latter were called dendrites (from the Greek dendron, which means “tree”).

The icon is in a popular style. The bust of the saint emerges from the shaft of the column, topped with a hollow capital as if to allow space for the body. In his left hand Simeon is holding an unrolled scroll on which is written in Greek: “Brothers, the weapons of the monk are reading, prayer and humility”, indicating by this that asceticism is a daily battle.

R. Z.


City of Paris municipal collection's website

City of Paris municipal collection's website

The collections portal can be used to search the collections of Paris’s 14 municipal museums (approximately 336,000 works, including 43,000 belonging to the Petit Palais).

It is also possible to download around 12,000 images of the museum’s works free of charge.

Access the Museums of the City of Paris collections portal
Autre base documentaire

Extern databases

Discover a selection of databases online presenting works from the Petit Palais or documents concerning the history of the museum.