Venerable Joseph the Hymnographer

April 3

Joseph was born in Sicily of pious and virtuous parents, Plotinus and Agatha. After the death of his parents, Joseph moved to Thessalonica, where he was tonsured a monk. As a monk, he was a model to all in fasting, extreme abstinence, ceaseless prayer, chanting of the Psalms, vigils and labor. The bishop of Thessalonica ordained him a hieromonk. While visiting Thessalonica, the distinguished Gregory of Decapolis was so impressed with Joseph, because of his rare character, that he invited him to his monastery in Constantinople. When the flame of the iconoclastic heresy erupted again under Leo the Armenian, Joseph was sent to Rome to call upon the pope and the Roman Church to battle for Orthodoxy. While en route, Joseph was captured by pirates and taken to Crete, where the heretics detained him in prison for six years. Joseph rejoiced that he was made worthy to suffer for Christ, and for that he continually praised God, considering his iron chains as an adornment of gold. Early in the morning on the Feast of Christ’s Nativity, in the sixth year of Joseph’s imprisonment, the wicked Emperor Leo was slain in church while attending matins. At that same moment, St. Nicholas appeared to Joseph in prison, saying: “Arise and follow me!” Joseph felt himself being elevated in the air and, all at once, found himself before the gates of Constantinople. All true believers rejoiced at his coming. He composed canons and hymns for many saints. He possessed the gift of clairvoyance, for which Patriarch Photios appointed him the spiritual father and confessor for priests, recommending him as “a man of God, an angel in the flesh and a father of fathers.” In extreme old age, Joseph gave up his soul to the Lord, Whom he had faithfully served both in works and in hymns. He died peacefully on the eve of Holy and Great Thursday in the year 883.

Source: St. Nikolai Velimirovic, The Prologue of Ohrid – Volume One.

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