The Monk Silouan of Athos, known to the world under the name Simeon, was born in 1866 into the pious family of the peasant John Antonov, who lived in the village of Shovskoye, Shovskaya volost, Lebedinsky district, Tambov province. Simeon's parents were industrious, meek, and naturally wise, though illiterate. As the elder later recalled, a large and friendly family lived in poverty, however, they never refused to help those in need, sometimes even sharing the last with them. Wanderers were especially welcomed in the family. The father talked with them about God and the Christian life, and these conversations made a strong impression on the receptive soul of the lad Simeon.
From childhood, Simeon worked together with his elders, helping his father in the field and helping his brothers in construction work on the landowner's estate to the best of his ability. Perhaps for this reason, he was forced to leave the village school, having studied there for only "two winters". But the desire for knowledge was always inherent in the monk.
The life of the pious Antonov family was inextricably linked with the temple, visiting which instilled in Simeon from infancy a sense of reverence for the word of God, brought him up in the spirit of Christian humility and other virtues. In the church, he comprehended church reading, studied concentrated prayer, listened to the reading of the "Lives of the Saints." A few years later, the young man, having loved the Lord with all his soul, openly wished to retire to a monastery and take tonsure. His desire, however, did not meet with support from his father, who insisted that his son first enter the military service and only after completing it did he decide what he should become.