St Joseph the Hesychast

St Joseph the Hesychast, who was canonised by the Ecumenical Patriarchate on 20 October 2019, is one of Orthodoxy’s newest saints. He was a shining beacon of monasticism in the 20th century and played a major role in the revitalisation of Mt Athos and the teaching of the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.”

St Joseph was born in Paros in 1897. His family was extremely poor and so the Saint left home at the age of 17 to work in Pireaus. After receiving a vision of two angels serving the heavenly king in his early twenties, he lost all interest in a worldly life and went to fast and pray in the nearby countryside. Two years later, in 1921, he abandoned the world entirely and left for Mt Athos. There he met his coascetic and struggler, Father Arsenios. The two would be inseparable for the rest of their lives. They lived a very strict life consisting of the denial of the body and the unceasing repetition of the Jesus Prayer. In turn, God graced him with exalted spiritual gifts, including visions of the uncreated light.

After some years, St Joseph’s fame began spreading, and he attracted disciples who wanted to imitate his way of life. Eventually, a strong brotherhood was formed consisting of St Joseph, Father Arsenios, Father Athanasios, Father Joseph the Cypriot (later Abbot of Vatopaidi Monastery), Father Ephraim (later Abbot of Philotheou Monastery) and Father Haralambos (later Abbot of Dionysiou Monastery). These disciples subsequently spread St Joseph’s theology to their respective monasteries, which led to a resurgence of noetic prayer in the Holy Mountain.

In 1959, a few months before his death, St Joseph was visited by Panagia who promised him that she would take him on her feast day. True to her word, St Joseph passed away on the Feast of the Dormition, on 15 August 1959. May the great Saint intercede to the Lord for us.


Source: Lychnos February – March 2021