He was the second bishop of Jersualem, taking over after Jesus' brother James the Righteous was stoned to death around AD 62 or 63. The Roman Porcius Festus (the Festive Pig?) was just taking over as procurator (governor). The Roman historian Flavius Josephus dished the dirt on the execution, but that's not important here. We might think being the second bishop is memorable, but who was the second pope? You know, that guy who succeeded Saint Peter? Yeah, I didn't think so.
Simeon is said to have lived to be 120 years old. If true, that's pretty friggin' impressive. And if they actually bothered to crucify a 120-year-old man, then the Romans in charge of the Judea under Trajan were beyond horrible. [Of course, there's always the possibility that as soon as a death penalty was announced, Simeon requested the crucifixion out of respect for his cousin].
|The Arch of Titus showing the sack of the Temple|
Lest we think the fix was in, a little perspective might help. Remember that the Christians were considered fairly heretical among the Jews. If their numbers were growing at all, it would have been irritating to the religious conservatives in Jerusalem. At the same time, lots of factions were getting noisy about rebellion against Roman rule, not least a group called the Zealots. Stick around and get caught between the Zealots and the Roman Army or cross the Jordan and head north to some good farmland --- hmmm, tough call, huh?
Still, you'd think having enough foresight to move the Christian community to safety in advance of the rebellion and Vespasian's subsequent slaughter would be more celebrated than it is.
Saint Simeon - patron of strategic relocation. Oh, and the second pope was Linus.