St. Symeon the Host of God

and St. Anna the Prophetess

February 16 (February 3, Old Calendar)

St. Symeon, the Host of God, was a man not only of holy spirit but of great patience as well. He was a highly intelligent scholar and a deeply religious man, who knew from his interpretation of the Old Testament that the Messiah was to come. He prayed not only for deliverance, but for the opportunity to remain alive just long enough to cast his eyes on the Messiah. This was no small request made of the Lord, for it is quite certain, although estimates vary as to his actual age, that he was born many years before Christ. St. Symeon is estimated to have been at least 150 years old at the time of the Nativity, and only because God had given him those many years in answer to his earnest prayers that he be allowed to live to that great day.

St. Symeon was one of the famous Seventy, who were chosen to translate the Bible from Hebrew into Greek in the time of the Egyptian Pharaoh Ptolemy Philadelphus (285-246 B.C.). St. Symeon worked conscientiously, but when, translating the prophet Isaiah, he came to the prophecy: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son," he was puzzled. He took a knife to scratch out the word "virgin" and substitute "young woman," and translate it thus into Greek. But at that moment an angel of God appeared to him and held him back from his intention, explaining to him that the prophecy was true and rightly expressed. And to confirm its veracity, the messenger from God said that he, Symeon, by the will of God, would not die until he had seen the Messiah born of a virgin. The righteous Symeon rejoiced at these heavenly tidings, left the prophecy unchanged and thanked God that He had found him worthy to live to see the Promised One.

When the Christ Child was brought into the Temple in Jerusalem by the Virgin Mary, the Spirit of God revealed this to Symeon, who was now a very old man with snow-white hair. He went quickly to the Temple and found there both the Virgin and Child, bathed in a light that shone round their heads like a halo. The joyful elder took Christ in his arms and prayed to God, saying: "Lettest thou Thy servant depart in peace, O Master, according to Thy word, for my eyes have seen Thy salvation" (Lk. 2:29-30). Soon after that, St. Symeon departed this life. This righteous elder is venerated as the protector of young children.

St. Anna the prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, also came to see the child, recognizing Him as the Messiah and making Him known to the people. St. Anna was then 84 years old.

Troparion, Tone 1

In the Temple thou didst embrace as an infant God the Word Who became flesh./ O glorious Elder Symeon, who didst hold God in thine arms./ And also as a prophetess the august Anna ascribed praise to Him./ We acclaim you as divine servants of Christ.

Kontakion, Tone 3

Let Symeon the Righteous and Anna the Prophetess,/ that godly pair, be praised together;/ well-pleasing to God,/ they became witnesses of the Incarnate Lord./ When they saw him as an infant, they worshipped Him together.

Holy Protection Russian Orthodox Church

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(symeon_anna.doc, 08-10-2000)