Simon the Shoemaker
St. Simon the Shoemaker (10th century A.D.), also known as Simon the Tanner (Sama'an el-Dabbagh in Arabic), is the Coptic Orthodox saint associated with the great miracle of moving the Mokattam Mountain in Cairo, Egypt, during the ruling of the Muslim Fatimid Caliph Al Muizz.
Who Is St. Simon the Tanner
At the time, the many Copts (Coptic Christians) in Egypt were engaged in handicrafts. Saint Simon worked in one of the crafts widespread in Babylon (Old Cairo) which was tanning, a craft still known there till this day.
This profession involved also other crafts that depend on the process, from where he carried several titles related to skins; Saint Simon the Tanner, the Cobbler, the Shoemaker.
The Caliph Al Muizz was used to inviting different religious leaders to debate in his presence. In one of those meetings in which Pope Abraam and a Jew named Jacob Ibn Killis were present, the Pope got the upper hand in the debate. Plotting to take revenge, Ibn Killis quoted the verse where the Lord, Jesus Christ, said in Matthew 17:20: "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to the mountain, Move from here to there, and it will move, nothing will be impossible for you" and demanded him to prove that his religion is right by means of this.
The Caliph saw in this a unique opportunity and asked Pope Abraam to move the Mokattam Mountain. If they proved unable to do so, it would be the proof that the religion of the Christians was wrong and the Caliph would be done away with them completely.
And so, after three days of prayers and fasting by the Copts throughout Egypt, Pope Abraam was directed by the Holy Virgin Mary (in an apparition of her) to choose St. Simon to move the Mokattam Mountain. On the set day, as the people with St. Simon the Tanner among them, were saying Kyrie Eleison, the mountain was thrusting up and down, and the sun could be seen from under it. After the miracle was performed in the presence of the Caliph, the Pope turned left and right looking for St. Simon the Tanner, but no one could find him (a sign of the saint's great humility).
The relics of St. Simon were discovered in 1991 in Babylon in St. Mary's Coptic Orthodox church there (known as the Hanging Church).
Sources and Further Details
- The Biography of Saint Samaan the Shoemaker "the Tanner" - The Church of Saint Samaan the Tanner, Mokattam Mountain, Cairo, Egypt
- The Monastery of St. Simon (Simeon) the Tanner - by Lara Iskander