Born: early first century
FEast: Dec. 1st
Simon is mentioned in the Gospels as the man whom the Romans chose to carry the cross for Jesus on the way to his crucifixion when Jesus was no longer able. He is mentioned to be from Cyrene, which is in modern-day Libya, and is mentioned to be the father of Rufus and Alexander.
Those facts are all that we can know for sure, but those few words can give many varying ideas about Simon and what the rest of his life was like.
There was a population of Cyrenians who were Jewish that had been displaced years before the first century, but they had a temple in Jerusalem, so it is possible Simon was Jewish. Some think Simon knew Jesus, or at least sympathized with him, and perhaps volunteered when the soldiers were looking for help. Other suggest, though, that the Romans may have chosen him out of the crowd simply because he was not Jewish, and not from the nearby towns, to not have to complicate matters more.
What happened to Simon after the crucifixion is also a mystery. It is mentioned in Acts of the Apostles that there were "men from Cyrene" who were preaching to the Greeks, and Simon could have been one of them, if by chance his experience had changed him enough to become a believer in Jesus.
Another curious point is the mention of him being the father of the mentioned names Rufus and Alexander. The mention of their names without any context suggests that those two men may have been important figures in the early Christian church, so much so that readers would have known who they were. Paul also mentions a Rufus in his letter to the Romans.
Because all names were common, however, these ideas are all speculation.
It’s possible that you had no idea what was going on at Jesus’ crucifixion, and that you didn’t even agree to helping him carry the cross. But you did it anyway. Allow us to help strangers as you did. Even when we don’t know what they’ve done or how their circumstance happened to them, let us approach with love to help however we can.
At the suggestion of the icon's commissioner, Simon here is covered in Jesus' blood from his forced job of aiding him in carrying the cross. He also bears a tattoo resembling Jesus' crown of thorns, and wears a simple undershirt from the straining it took to perform such a task. His eyes are also closed and his head turned away, trying not to see the horrors in front of him, despite his forever being marked by them.