St. Joseph of Patros icon
Orthodox icon of Saint Joseph of Patros, Bishop of Timisoara. Contemporary icon
Commemorated on August 15
Saint Joseph the New of Partos was born in 1568 in Raguza of Dalmatia (today Dubrovnik, Croatia), from a Wallachian Christian family, and was baptized as Jacob. His father was a Venetian named Giovanni Fusco, and his mother, Aikaterina, was originally from Limnos, a Greek island. More precisely, she had Morlach ancestry, which is another name for "MavroVlachos" (Black Wallachian), one of the different Romanian populations spread throughout the entire Balkan peninsula, south of the 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 Romanians and Black Wallachians. Here the young boy went in a monastery school, being 12 years old. Three years later, he entered the Monastery of Our Lady of Ochrid, and remained there about 5 years.
After 5 years as a novice, he went to Mount Athos, to Pantokrator Monastery and he was tonsured monk, being named Joseph.
In the Monastery he was known as Great Schema Monk Joseph the Vlach. Here he lived for many years along with the monks in a strict life of fasting, all-night vigils, obedience and humility. Finally, he became a hermit in the woods nearby and he was said to have the “gift of tears”, a highly prized charisma in Eastern monasticism, and “unceasing 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 Orthodox monasticism, particularly after Gregory Palamas and the hesychast movement, as the ideal of human perfection, theosis.
Because of the holiness of his life, Joseph worked miracles and cured many diseases, especially those who were crippled. Often he was called to several monasteries, where he healed the monks from their bodily sufferings.
After a long time, the monks invited him back into the brotherhood and he was ordained priest and confessor of the monks of Mount Athos. Soon he became known also to the Patriarch of Constantinople, who appointed him abbot of the Monastery of Saint Stephen in Adrianople, where he remained about 6 years. Coming back to Athos, Joseph became abbot in the Monastery of Koutloumousiou, one of the oldest monasteries, basically built from the donations of the Wallachian voivods and noblemen.
Being more than 70 years old, he retired in silence near Vatopaidi Monastery. But his mission still didn’t come to its end.
In 1552, in western Banat, hitherto included in the Kingdom of Hungary, it fell under Turkish rule, being transformed into a Pashalic (1552-1718) based in Timisoara. 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 Kosovo Polje, in 1389, when Serbia was occupied by the Turks. Until then there were in Banat only Romanians (Vlachs), Hungarians and Germans.
A Metropolitan of Timisoara died in 1650 and Joseph the Vlach was sent in his place, despite 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. Tradition mentions several miracles of the Saint, including fighting a fire that engulfed the west side of Timisoara. Apparently Joseph came out of the church with the Sacraments in the hands and, after he had prayed with tears, God sent a heavy rain, so that the fire stopped.
Being practically all his life a simple monk, he might have liked the silence of the monastery more than service as a hierarch. In 1653, Joseph retired definitively to the not-far-away Partos Monastery, where he lived for three years.
This information came from a note, made in 1655, in a Menologion that belonged to the Monastery of St. George situated near the city: "This book belongs to the Lord Metropolitan Joseph of Timisoara, in 1655, who voluntarily left the diocese, withdrawing to Partos Monastery, where he lived several years and then moved on to eternal life, where the saints are resting."
According to tradition, when he passed 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 the entrance door.