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2. 4. 3. The Symeonian Ecstasies from Life Written by Saint Niketas

In description of the Life of Saint Symeon, his Father, Saint Niketas Stethatos punctuates more ecstasies of him, the first being that from I, 5.

After how we said into a previous section, the first symeonian ecstasy is recognized and by Niketas, as being the one before coming of Saint Symeon at Studion, after what he met Saint Symeon the Pious[1].

The ecstatic description of the I, 5, begins with the detail that Symeon was at prayer, on time at night and he was united with Prime Mind, as a noi> kaqarw|/ [pure mind][2].

Niketas puts the accent on spiritual rationality of man who prays, which is brought of purity of mind and on his relation with God as Prime Reason, as the Fountain of any clean thinking.

The ecstatic sight is integrated also in the context of private prayer, prolonged, of Saint Symeon.

It was a night prayer, where Symeon sees, suddenly, „a light from above, shining upon him, [an] unmixed [eivlikrine,j] [light coming] from heaven, immense [a;pleton], that filled all with the light and purity, as and how the day had come[3].

The light and the purity are two pregnant realities of the niketian description and the divine light is presented as the foundation of purity of mind of Saint Symeon.

To Symeon, which stands in the light, says Niketas, it seemed to him that he did not see anymore the house and the cell in that he prayed, for that these two no longer espied[4] and he was „a`rpage,nta evn tw|/ ave,ri” [ravished in the air][5], he forgetting his body[6].

In I, 5, 9-10, Niketas recognizes that he reproduces what he heard from Symeon and what wrote and Symeon about this sight[7].

The oral and written tradition merges in Life written by Niketas and it is the living mode, coherent in that was transmited to us the holy and multilateral Tradition of the Church.

The sight, says Niketas, was received by Symeon as a „foreign enormity” [to. xe,nou tou/ terasti,ou], as a colossal experience, for that he did not live such discoveries [avpokalu,yewn][8].

If Niketas recognizes that this is the first symeonian ecstasy, in the same night, Niketas says that Symeon lived and another divine sight, distinct from ecstasy, but in extension of it –  for that it was „into the work of light”[9] – in which he saw Saint Symeon the Pious[10].

In this second sight [ei=doj], Symeon sees „a too-bright cloud, without form and without interruption, full of unspeakable glory of God, [which came] from the high heaven[11].

Thus nefe,lh [the cloud] and do,xa [glory], and two classical ecstatic representations of spiritual experience recur and at Niketas and they punctuate the ecstatic realities of Saint Symeon.

From this is observed, that Saint Niketas proves himself a fidel disciple of Saint Symeon the New Theologian even and in the smallest details.

Speaking about the apparation of Saint Symeon the Pious in the light, Niketas uses the substantive o]ra/ma [sight/ vision]. Symeon, his Father, had a „tou/ friktou/ o`ra,matoj” [frightening vision], in which he saw his Father, Saint Symeon the Pious[12].

At the end of the first chapter of Life, in I, 9, Niketas presents the second symeonian ecstasy without as modern editors of the text to include in subtitle this thing.

On the way to Constantinople, weeping and mourning, being again alone, Symeon has the third divine sight [if we consider the first, described by Niketas, as being two sights], in the middle of the mountains[13].

Here, he was walking on mountain road, and „suddenly the grace of the Ghost from above wrapped him on the Righteous as a fire, that once Paul [Acts 9, 3; 22, 6] and filled him integer of joy and unspeakable sweetness, increasing in him [evpauxh,sasa] the love of God and faith in his spiritual Father”[14].

Niketas does not want to make from the third symeonian ecstasy it describes an another revelation in the road to Damascus, ie a muster of identical sequentiality with the ecstasy of Paul, but he presents the ecstasy in the form in which it happened.

The annexation of the symeonian ecstasy at the pauline one does not keep than of the detail to go to a principal town, at the fact that it occurs while the mystic was on road and at that one that the light wrapped him suddenly.

But the two ecstasies are not identical in nature and even God did not want the same thing when He gave the two.

If in the case of Paul, the ecstasy was a converting meeting with his Lord, in the case of Symeon, the ecstasy from road had the role to increase the love of Symeon to God and to his spiritual Father, the Saint Symeon the Pious.

We must see in this ecstatic description of Saint Niketas the decisive role which has the ecstasy in our spiritual growth.

The ecstasy and the spiritual Father, that God’s direct guidance and direct guidance of Father, of his spiritual Mentor, blends in divine mode in the formation of Symeon.

Symeon needs divine-human certitudes for to grow in Christ, the divine revelations but and the personal example, charismatic, of the spiritual Father. He is led by the Ghost, through divine light but and the spiritual Father, through the same Ghost, Who dwells in him.


[1] Acc. OC 12, I, 4, 1-34, p. 6-8 [ed. Hausherr] / Life, ed. Iliescu, p. 16-18/ Ică jr. 4, p. 246-247 [ed. Koutsas].

[2] Idem, I, 5, 1-2, p. 8 / Idem, p.18 / Idem, p. 247.

[3] Idem, I, 5, 2-4, p. 8 / Ibidem / Ibidem.

[4] Idem, I, 5, 5-7, p. 8 / Ibidem /  Ibidem.

[5] Idem, I, 5, 8, p. 8 / Ibidem / Ibidem.

[6] Idem, I, 5, 7-8, p. 8 / Ibidem / Ibidem.

[7] Idem, I, 5, 8-9, p. 8 / Ibidem/ Ibidem.

[8] Idem, I, 5, 10, p. 8 / Idem, p. 18-19 / Idem, p. 248.

[9] Idem, I, 5, 14, p. 8 / Idem, p. 19 / Ibidem.

[10] Idem, I, 5, 13-14, p. 8 / Ibidem / Ibidem.

[11] Idem, I, 5, 14-16, p. 8 / Ibidem / Ibidem.

[12] Idem, I, 5, 18, p. 10 / Ibidem / Ibidem.

[13] Idem, I, 5, 12-18, p. 16-18 / Idem, p. 25 / Idem, p. 251.

[14] Idem, I, 5, 18-22, p. 18 / Ibidem / Ibidem.

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