Stylites (Gr. στνλίτης, belonging to a pillar), a class of anchorites who spent their lives on pillars. The originator of this mode of Christian penance was Simeon (known as St. Simeon Stylites), a Syrian, who was born in Sisan or Sesan about 390, and died near Antioch in 459. He spent several years in convents, but not being satisfied with the severity of their discipline, he built for himself on Mt. Tela-nissa a small hut, in which he inflicted upon himself all manner of bodily pains, in the hope of thereby attaining to spiritual perfection. His fame drew around him large numbers of admirers, and in order to escape their constant intrusions and persistent efforts to approach him and touch his garments, he decided to live on top of a pillar. At first he maintained himself standing upon it by means of a beam, but he soon learned to do without this support, and to obtain rest by leaning against the low parapet. His pillar was at first only about 10 ft. high, but he had it repeatedly increased in height, until it was about GO ft. high.
On this pillar, the top of which is said to have measured only a few feet in circumference, he lived upward of 30 years; and when he died the people of Antioch received his body into their city and revered him as their patron saint. His example found numerous imitators in the East, but his peculiar kind of asceticism met with little favor in the West, He and his followers received the designation of stylites, but are known also as air martyrs, pillarists, and pillar saints. There were several other stylites called Simeon. One died in 595, and another, one of the last recorded in history, lived in the 12th century. It is related of one Alypius that he maintained himself 70 years on a pillar near Adrianople.