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Patron Saint of Puppeteers

Saint Simeon el Salo
St Simeon was definitely a nutter – literally. His mad behaviour included throwing nuts (from a balcony) at the beginning of Mass to extinguish the candles, and also, it is claimed, attacking women with nuts. He is also reported to have dressed strangely and to even eat sausages on Good Friday! But surely, those capricious eccentricities cannot be the reason he was adopted as the patron saint of puppeteers – despite, some say, a certain amount of madness being a prerequisite to enter the profession.
He lived as a hermit but after 29 years of self-discipline in the Sinai Desert, Simeon decided to go home to Emesa in Syria, to look after those generally considered outcasts. If we are really to learn humility, he argued, we must love humiliations. On this reasoning Simeon deliberately began to behave as a fool - hence his nickname, Salus which in Syriac means crazy. No-one could respect someone who cavorted so stupidly. But the pathetic creatures whom he desired to love welcomed him as one despised like themselves.
He is traditionally shown holding a hand-puppet which he is reported to have made to look like himself in order to mock and laugh at himself and to ridicule sin.
Simeon certainly behaved strangely and it is recorded that God blessed him with extraordinary happiness. Simeon Salus died when nearly seventy in about AD590 and was the first saint to be venerated explicitly as a “fool for Christ’s sake”.
St Simeon’s Day is 1 July.
Ray DaSilva
Ref: Perfect Fools by John Saward. OUP 1980.




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