Saint Joseph the Hesychast Icon - S569

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Saint Joseph was born in Greece in 1897. At the age of 23 he began to read the lives of the Saints, which sparked a yearning to enter the monastic life. He began to withdraw to the uninhabited countryside, and finally departed to Mount Athos. He desired to practice Hesychasm, the mystical tradition of inner stillness and prayer in the Orthodox Church. His desire was met with indifference by many monks, but he eventually found a co-struggler in Fr. Arsenios. They withdrew to remote places to pray under the guidance of Elder Ephraim the Barrel-Maker.

Over the years, Fr. Joseph became famous for his spiritual insight, and many pilgrims and monks came to follow him. He eventually withdrew with a few brothers to a remote cave at Little St. Anne's Skete on Mount Athos, and later to New Skete. He continued to struggle in prayer and fasting there until his repose on August 15, 1959. He is known to have received the gift of the Uncreated Light, an experience of God's grace manifested in a holy vision that is known to advanced Hesychasts who have totally surrendered their will to God.

St. Joseph was venerated in Greece and Romania for many years, and he became known in the English speaking world through the writings of his friend, St. Sophrony of Essex. He was glorified in 2019 and his feast is celebrated on August 16.


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