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Life of Saint Silouan


Simeon Ivanovici Antonov was born in 1866 in a modest Russian peasant family. Simeon’s father was a man full of deep faith, kindness, and much wisdom, and was the first model for his inner life. Ever since he was a small child, at the age of four, Simeon said to himself, “When I grow up, I shall go all over the world looking for God”. Hearing then about the holy life and the miracles performed by St. John the Hermit (a Russian saint, contemporary with Saint Silouan, living in proximity to him at the time), young Simeon realized that “if saints exist, that means that God is with us and I do not need to journey the whole earth to find Him”.

At the age of nineteen, Simeon, engulfed by the love of God, feels an interior transformation and an attraction to the monastic life. His father is very strict, sending him to first fulfill his military service. This exceptional state lasted three months, and then left him. Young Simeon, vigorous and handsome, began to live a life similar to that of young people of his age: a life very far from the holiness of the divine inspiration that visited him. Having a very robust nature and exceptional physical strength, he experienced many temptations of youth: one day he hit a fellow from his village so powerfully that he was barely left alive.

In the turmoil of that life full of sin, his first calling to the monastic life began to fade. One day he was awoken from a nightmare by the gentle voice the Mother of God, and it shook his troubled soul. Until the end of his life, Saint Silouan thanked the Blessed Virgin because she well pleased to save him from his fall. This second calling, that happened shortly before his military service, played a decisive role in the choice of the path on which he would henceforth walk. Simeon felt deep shame for his past and began to fervently repent before God. His attitude toward all he saw in this life changed radically.