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I recently read in Diarmaid MacCullochs 'A History of Christianity' that the pillar dweller and hermit, Simeon had a church built around him, almost like a "living exhibit in a Christian zoo". However this contrasts other sources which have the church as being built decades after his death (his death being in 459 AD and the church being built in 475 AD). Which of these correct? Any help most appreciated.

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Welcome to History Stack-Exchange. Great question, +1 –  Russell Oct 20 '12 at 8:43
i wasnt able to find you any specifics, but i know that there are many instances of churches from this time period and later taking 10-20- even 100 years to complete, so it not a stretch in my mind that they started building the church around him, or created a smaller structure, and finished the church in 475. –  Himarm Jan 7 at 0:37
ive found further articles just stated its date of consecration was in 475 ad. but there seems to be no records or references of the actual construction start date. –  Himarm Jan 7 at 0:45

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The text you have read refers to Simeon Stylites the Younger, who appears (according to this source and to a Life written around his own time) to have had a monastery built around him while he was alive. But as the aforementioned source says (as most other, apparently), the Church of Simeon Stylites the Elder was built as a posthumous memorial.

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