Thursday, September 13, 2012

Saint Joseph the New from Partoş, the Metropolitan of Timişoara (+ 1656)

Saint Joseph the New from Partoş was born in 1568 in Raguza, in Dalmatia (today Dubrovnik, Croatia), from a Wallachian Christian family, being baptized as Jacob. His father was a Venetian named Giovanni Fusco, and his mother, Ecaterina, was originally from Limnos, a Greek island. More precisely, she had a „Morlach” ancestry, which is another name for „Mavro-Vlachos” (black Wallachian), one of the different romanic populations spread in the entire Balcanic peninsula, south form Danube.
After his father's death, the young Jacob moved with his mother in Ochrid, an important Orthodox center in the region, also populated by Aromanians and black Wallachians. Here the young boy went in a monastery school, being 12 years old. Three years later, he entered in the congregation of the monastery of Our Lady of Ochrid, and remained here about 5 years.

Athonite monk

After 5 year of apprenticeship, he went to Mount Athos, at Pantokrator Monastery and he was tonsured monk, being named Joseph.
Here in the monastery he was known as Megaloschemos Joseph the “Vlach”, which means that he has received the great monastic schema (Great Schema, in difference to the Small, consists in a new tonsure, usual received only by hermits). Here he lived for many years along with the monks, in a harsh fasting life, all-night vigil, obedience and humility. Finally, he went as hermit in the woods nearby and it is said to have the “gift of tears”, a highly prized charisma in Eastern monasticism and “the incessant prayer”, because he “lowered the mind into the heart”, that means that he united his reason with his spiritual senses. This inner union is considered in the Orthodox monasticism, particularly after Gregory Palamas and the hesychast movement, as the ideal of the human perfection.
Because of the holiness of his life, Joseph could make miracles and cured many diseases, especially those crippled. Often he was called in several monasteries, where he healed the monks from their bodily sufferings.
After a long time, the monks invited him back into the congregation and he was ordained priest and confessor of the monks of Mount Athos. Soon he became known also by the Patriarch of Constantinople who appointed him abbot of the Monastery of Saint Stephen in Adrianople, where he remained about 6 years.  Coming back in Athos, Joseph became abbot in the monastery of Koutloumousiou, one of the oldest convents, basically built from the donations of the Wallachian voivods and noblemen.
Being more than 70 years old, he retired in silence near Vatopedi monastery. But his mission still didn’t come to its end.


In 1552, the western Banat, hitherto included in the Kingdom of Hungary, fell under Turkish rule, being transformed into a “pashalic” (1552-1718) based in Timişoara. In this context, it seems that there was metropolitanate in this region, under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. It's hard to say what nationality were the Orthodox believers in Banat. The massive Serb migration north of the Danube began after the battle of Kossovopolje, in 1389, when Serbia was occupied by the Turks. Until then there were in Banat only Romanians (Vlachs), Hungarians and Germans.
A metropolitan of Timişoara died in 1650 and Joseph the Vlach was sent in his place, despite of his age, being about 80 years old. Maybe his nationality was important in the eyes of the Orthodox believers there. In any case, his ordination took place on July 20, 1650 and he served as Metropolitan only for three years. The tradition mentions several miracles of the saint, including fighting a fire that engulfed the west side of Timişoara. Apparently Joseph came out from the church with the Sacraments in the hands and, after he had prayed with tears, God have sent a heavy rain, so that the fire stopped.
old icon of the Saint

Being practically all his life long a simple monk, he might have liked the silence of the monastery more than the service as a hierarch. In 1653, Joseph retired definitively to the not-far-away Partoş monastery, where he lived for three years. This information came from a note, made in 1655, on a Menologion (all-day service book) that belonged to the monastery of St. George situated near the city: “This book belongs to the Lord Metropolitan Joseph of Timişoara, in 1655, who voluntarily left the diocese, withdrawing at Partoş monastery, where he lived several years and then moved to the eternal life, where the saints are resting”.
According to tradition, when his passing into eternity, the monastery bells began to beat by themselves.
Saint Joseph died being over 85 years old. He was buried in the monastery’s church nave, opposite to the entrance door.
The old and the new churches of Partoş Monastery


The popular tradition recorded soon the Metropolitan Joseph as a saint. In 1749, a pilgrim named Peica offered a Gospel-book to the monastery of Partoş, just before his trip to Jerusalem. On this book he wrote: “I, the sinner servant of God Hagi (=pilgrim) Peica, offer this holy book, the so-called Gospel, to the monastery of  Partoş convent, dedicated to St Michael - where is located the body of the Saint Lord Joseph - for our good and our happy journey to the great city Jerusalem”.
In 1782, the local priest Stephen Bogoslovici painted an icon, at the request of the Archpriest Ioan Şuboni, who donated it to the monastery, in order to be placed above the saint’s grave. On the icon there were written the name of “Our Father Saint Joseph the New” and the troparion (hymn of the saint) as follows: "In youth you entirely obeyed to God in prayers and labors and in fasting, being the icon of the goodness. Therefore God, seeing your good work, has put you bishop and shepherd of His church. Wherefore, your holy body has been preserved, after death, fair and incorrupted. Saint Joseph, pray to Christ our God, to bestow forgiveness to those who remember your holy memory, with faith and love”.
According to another tradition, the daughter of Mark Mutiu, the mayor of Timişoara in the middle of the 18th century, was cured at the monastery of a disease that she has long suffered. In gratitude, the mayor built here a new church, near the old one, where St. Joseph once officiated the Liturgy.  This church still functions until today.
 In 1929 Bizerea, a local priest wrote also based on the local tradition, that St. Joseph “already during his life enjoyed the fame of a true saint, and after his death he has left a memory of a truly saint among the religious people and the monks”.
Romanian Orthodox Cathedral
in Timişoara
The Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church decided soon the official proclamation of the Holy Hierarch Joseph the New. This act happened during a celebration on October 6-8, 1956, in the Metropolitan Cathedral in Timişoara, where his holy relics were placed. His commemoration occurs each year on September 15, the day of his enthronization as metropolitan.  The Akathist of St. Joseph and the other Holy Services were included in the service books of the Romanian Orthodox Church.
In 1965, the Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church decided the name of St. Joseph to be placed also in the church calendars from Serbia, as a witness of the worship that St. Joseph enjoyed throughout the Romanian and the Serbian parts of Banat.
Adăugaţi o legendă
The story about the firefighting remained very strong in the memory of the locals, so that, following a decision of the Romanian Ministry of Interior in 1997, Saint Joseph the New became the holy patron of the firefighters.
The Relics of the Saint
The relics and the icon of the Saint, in the Cathedral of Timişoara
The relics of the Saint

Troparion of St. Joseph the New of Partoş (after the hymn from 1782):

In youth you entirely obeyed to God in prayers and labors and in fasting. Therefore God, seeing your good work, has put you bishop and shepherd of His Church and you dwelt after your death in the heavenly hosts of the saints, o, Holy Father Joseph. Pray to Christ our God to bestow forgiveness to us,  who remember your holy memory, with faith and love!”

1 comment:

  1. Blessed Saints, thank you for your healing of my son's genogram, parents, grandparents, greatgrandparents, cleansing, deliverance protection (my nieces, nephews, godchild's family as well), Erich needs a powerful intercessor for bondages breaking and attacks of the devil.