Bishop of Jerusalem, Martyr
Saint Simeon was the son of Cleophas, otherwise called Alpheus, who was father also of Saint James the Lesser, the first bishop of Jerusalem, of Saint Jude the Apostle, and of another son named Joseph. Alpheus, according to tradition, was Saint Joseph's brother; thus Saint Simeon was the nephew of Saint Joseph and the cousin of our Saviour.
We cannot doubt but that he was an early follower of Christ; tradition assigns the family's residence to Nazareth. He certainly received the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, with the Blessed Virgin and the Apostles. When the Jews massacred Saint James the Lesser, his brother Simeon reproached them for their atrocious cruelty. After this first bishop of Jerusalem had been put to death in the year 62, that is, twenty-nine years after Our Saviour's Resurrection, the Apostles and disciples met at Jerusalem to appoint a successor, and unanimously chose Saint Simeon, who had probably already assisted his brother in the government of that Church.
In the year 66 or 67, during which Saints Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom at Rome, civil war broke out in Judea as a result of the hostility of the Jews against the Romans and their seditions. The Christians of Jerusalem were warned by God of the impending destruction of that city. With Saint Simeon at their head, they therefore left it in that year and retired beyond the Jordan to a small city called Pella, before Vespasian, Nero's General, later Roman Emperor, entered Judea. After the taking and burning of Jerusalem they returned there once more, still under the leadership of Saint Simeon, and settled amid its ruins.
The Jerusalem church flourished again for a few years until razed by Adrian, and multitudes of Jews were converted by the great number of prodigies and miracles wrought in its midst. The emperors Vespasian and Domitian had commanded all to be put to death who were of the race of David; but Saint Simeon escaped their searches. When Trajan renewed the same decree, however, certain heretics and Jews accused the Saint before the Roman governor in Palestine, as being both of the race of David and a Christian.
The holy bishop was condemned to be crucified. He died in the year 107, after having undergone during several days the usual tortures, though he was one hundred and twenty years old. He suffered these torments with so much patience that he won universal admiration. He had governed the Church of Jerusalem for about forty-three years.
Reflection. We bear the name of Christians, but are full of the spirit of worldlings, and our actions are infected with the poison of the world. We secretly seek ourselves, even when we flatter ourselves that God is our only aim, and while hoping to convert the world, we suffer it to pervert us. When shall we begin to study to crucify our passions and die to ourselves, that we may lay a solid foundation of true virtue and establish its reign in our hearts?