Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Amos Chapple | Maxime The Pillar Saint

Photo © Amos Chapple-All Rights Reserved
I have no chance of being a Stylite saint...(or being a saint for that matter) since I feel uncomfortable with heights. Not to the extent of being acrophobic, but enough that I think twice before looking out of a skyscraper balcony or even floor to ceiling windows.

CNN featured a photo essay by Amos Chapple on Maxime, a monk who lives on a mountain pillar in the country of Georgia. To get to his aerie where he lived for 20 years, the 59-year-old scales a 131-foot ladder, which takes him about 20 minutes.

Maxime follows the ancient tradition of the Stylites (aka Pillar-Saints), a type of Christian ascetics who in the early days of the Byzantine Empire stood on pillars preaching, fasting and praying. They believed that doing so would ensure the salvation of their souls. The first Stylite was Simeon who climbed a pillar in Syria in 423 and lived there for 39 years until his death.

The monk told Chapple that it was up on his perch that he could feel God's presence. The pillar is called Katskhi pillar, and stood unvisited since the 15th century when the Ottomans invaded Georgia. No one had even been to the top for centuries until an alpinist climbed it and found the remains of a chapel and the skeleton of a Stylite in 1944.

Amos Chapple started as a newspaper photographer in New Zealand, including two years at the country’s largest daily, The NZ Herald, before moving to London and working full-time for a project to photograph all of the world’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. He now works freelance and, as of the past year, has been specializing in photographs of the world’s ”beautiful secrets”. It’s a kind of travel photography, but by making sure each site is little-known, and has an interesting back story, it is proving popular with newspapers and magazines throughout Europe