IN THE NAME
OF THE FATHER AND THE SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT,
On this day died Saint Abba Joseph, the fifty-second Archbishop
of Alexandria. This man was
the son of one of the elders of the city of Manuf, and he had very many
possessions. When his parents
died and left him an orphan a certain God-fearing man brought him up, and
when he arrived at man’s estate he took his goods and gave them to the
poor and the beggars. Then he
went up into the desert of Scete, to the monastery of Saint Abba Macarius,
and he became a monk under the direction of a certain holy old man.
When Abba Mark the second was appointed archbishop, and he heard
that the natural disposition and intelligence of this Saint Abba Joseph
were good, he sent and had him brought unto him, and established him in
his house. After many days
Abba Joseph asked Abba Mark the archbishop, saying, “Let me depart to
the desert of Scete,” and straightway Abba Mark made him a priest and
sent him away to the desert of Scete.
And he remained there many years, until the holy father Abba Simon
the archbishop died, and the country of Egypt remained without an
archbishop for many years. After
the death of Abba Jacob, the bishops, made an agreement with a certain
scribe in the king’s house, who had married and whose wife had died, now
he had never been a monk, and the bishops took bribes from him, and they
made an agreement with one-half of the men of the city of Alexandria, to
appoint that scribe archbishop. And
all the bishops rose up against him, and they said unto him, “This
scheme which thou hast planned is not good, but bad, for the holy Canon
saith that all those who shall either take or receive bribes in respect of
appointments to the priesthood, are to be excommunicated.
And more especially shall it be so in this case, for this man hath
married twice, and he is wholly unsuited for the office of archbishop; and
besides, up to the present none but a virgin hath been appointed to sit on
the throne of Mark the evangelist.”
And these men then joined with them in this good counsel, and they
rose up and came into the church, and prayed to God and entreated Him to
make clear unto them who were the best man for this office.
And straightway God heard their petition, and He made them to
remember this Abba Joseph, and they sent a letter ordering the monks to
bring him from the desert of Scete. And
those who had been sent prayed unto God and said, “We beseech Thee to
reveal the matter unto us clearly; if Thou hast chosen this father Abba
Joseph to be the archbishop, give us the following sign, that is to say,
let us find the door of his cell open.”
And when they came to his cell they found the door of his cell
open, and they found Abba Joseph bidding farewell to a certain monk, and
he was wishing to go into his cell and to shut the door.
When he saw them he embraced them with a holy embrace, and received
them with joy, and brought them into his house.
When they came into his house they seized him and bound him,
saying, “He is worthy, He is worthy, Abba Joseph is worthy of the
archiepiscopate.” And he
cried out and wept, and he said unto them, “I have committed very many
sins, far more than any other man”; but they would not accept this
excuse from him, but they took him to the city of Alexandria and appointed
him archbishop. Having taken
his seat upon the throne of Mark the apostle, he thought about the Church
exceedingly, and with what remained of his own stipend he bought plots of
ground, which had been dedicated to pious works, and endowed the churches
with them. And he taught the people at all times, and he never neglected
any one of them. Now, Satan
was jealous of him, and he schemed schemes and brought sorrow upon him,
and the immediate cause was that the Bishop of the city of Tenes (Tanis),
and the Bishop of the city of Mesr (Cairo), behaved wrongly towards the
people and oppressed them in the matter of dues and afflicted them, and
Abba Joseph said unto them, “Forbear and do not afflict them.”
And on several occasions he had entreated them to look upon their
flocks with the eye of mercy, but they would not accept his behests, and
they set them aside. And
these holy bishops having afflicted their people [to excess], all the
people came to the Archbishop Abba Joseph, and they all cried out before
him, and said unto him, “If thou wilt not remove these bishops from over
us we shall embrace another Faith.”
And Abba Joseph fought very, very hard to make peace between them,
but he was not able to do so. Then
he brought all the bishops from all the land of Egypt, and when they were
assembled, he told them how these two bishops had afflicted their people.
And the archbishop sent and had those two bishops brought before
him, and he wished to make peace between them and their people; but they
would listen neither to his commands nor to those of his brother bishops.
And straightway the archbishop said unto them before all the
bishops, “I am innocent of your sins,” and the bishops were witnesses
against the two bishops that they had transgressed the command of the
Archbishop Abba Joseph. And
they all wrote with their own hands to this effect; “It is meet for
these two bishops to be cut off from their sees” and straightway the
archbishop cut them from their sees.
And when he had cut them off from their sees, these two bishops
went to the King of Egypt, and made false accusations against this father
Abba Joseph before him, and the king sent his brother and a company of
soldiers to bring the archbishop to him. When he had come to him the king’s brother drew his sword
and wanted to kill him, and when he was about to smite the archbishop with
the sword, God thrust aside the hand of that nobleman, and his sword
struck a pillar, and broke, and he was furiously angry.
And another man drew his dagger and drove it into the side of the
archbishop with all his might, and his apparel and his girdle were cut
through, but the dagger did not enter the flesh of the archbishop.
Then that nobleman knew that the archbishop was a righteous man,
and that there was in him divine grace, which would preserve him from
every evil, and from murder. And
he brought him to the king his brother with great honor, and he told him
what he had done to the archbishop, and how he had been smitten twice with
the sword and had escaped unhurt. When
the king heard this he marveled, and he was afraid of the archbishop and
paid him honor, and then he asked him questions about the two bishops who
had made accusations against him before him.
And the archbishop told him what had happened in the matter of the
bishops, and he proved to him that the accusations, which they had made
against him, were falsehoods. And
the king knew that those bishops were liars, and evil men, and accursed
oppressors, and straightway he commanded [his soldiers] to slay them.
And the archbishop said unto him, “Our Lord Christ in the Holy
Gospel commanded us to do good in return for evil.
These bishops made false accusations against me, but behold, God
hath established it in thy heart that I am innocent of the false charges
which they laid against me to thee; I therefore beseech thee to have mercy
upon them, and to forgive them for God’s sake.”
When the king saw the piety of the archbishop, he marveled
exceedingly, and he paid him honor, and he had mercy upon those two
bishops for his sake. And he
wrote for him an authorization and gave it to him, and in it he ordered:
“Neither officials nor bishops shall resist the archbishop, and
they shall not disobey his command, and whatsoever he is pleased to do in
his see he shall do, whether it be to remove a man from his office or to
appoint a new one.” And in
the days of this father the King of Ethiopia sent him a letter, saying,
“I do homage to the throne of Mark the evangelist, whereon to sit thou
art worthy, and by his grace my kingdom hath waxed strong.
I beseech thee to have compassion upon me and to send unto us as
bishop Abba John. There are
certain men of our city who have gone astray from the light of the throne
of Saint Mark the evangelist, and who have set their feet on the road,
which is full of thorns, and they have driven out Abba John our bishop.
Because of this great tribulation hath come upon our land and all
our men are dying of the plague, and our beasts and cattle have perished,
and God hath restrained the heavens so that they cannot rain upon our
land, and our enemies have risen up against us and have conquered us,
because we have not obeyed the commandments of God.
And now, O holy Abuna, have mercy upon us and upon our folly.
Send us our Bishop John so that he may entreat God, and pray for
us, and deliver us from this tribulation through thy prayer and his own.
And I will inform thee, O my father, what hath been the cause of
this. I thy son was blessed
by my father Abba John the bishop, and he bade me farewell as he set me on
my way with my soldiers, and he blessed me and then returned and dwelt in
his diocese. And we departed
to the war, and we continued to fight for very many days, and our enemies
conquered us, and they destroyed our soldiers, and we took to flight and
returned to our own country, and we missed Abba John our bishop.
And I enquired for him, and they told me that my wife, the queen,
had driven him into exile because certain evil men had counseled her to do
so, even as Queen Eudoxia had in days of old driven John of the Golden
Mouth (Chrysostom) into exile, and that they had appointed another bishop
who was their choice; they have transgressed the command of the holy
Canon, and therefore our country is destroyed.
And now have pity upon us and send Abba John to pray for us.”
Now when they drove that bishop out of Ethiopia he went and dwelt
in the monastery wherein he had become a monk, and that was the monastery
of Saint Abba Moses of the desert of Scete.
When Abba Joseph the archbishop had read the letter of the King of
Ethiopia, he rejoiced exceedingly because of his confidence, and he sent
quickly to the desert of Scete and brought back Abba John, and he
comforted him, and encouraged him, and sent brave men with him to the
country of Ethiopia. As soon
as he arrived, the plague ceased, and rain fell from heaven, and the king
rejoiced with very great joy at his arrival; and this father rebuked the
wicked sinners and converted them to the Orthodox Faith.
And he likewise encouraged all Christian people in the right and
good Faith, which they had received from their fathers.
And he used to interpret for them obscure passages in the Holy
Scriptures, and declare their meaning unto them, and he preserved them by
his teachings and prayers. And
God made manifest through this holy father Abba Joseph great signs and
wonders, and having finished his good and divine fight, and pleased God,
he died in peace, having sat upon the throne of Mark the evangelist
nineteen years. He lived the
life of a monk for nine and thirty years, and he had lived ten years
before he adopted the life of a monk; and all the days of his life were
eight and sixty years.
And on this day also Saint Dionysius, Bishop of the city of
Corinth, became a martyr in the days of Diocletian and Maximianus, the
wicked emperors. They
condemned this holy man to be tortured very severely, and when they were
tired of torturing him they cut off his head with a sword, and he received
the crown of martyrdom in the kingdom of the heavens.
Salutation to Archbishop Joseph of the city of Manuf, unto whom
was given the knowledge of Letters. Salutation
to Dionysius the Bishop of Corinth whose head was cut off.
And on this day also [are commemorated] the deaths of Tenkeyake
(or Tayanke), and Theodosius, the Laos (Talawos), Taxis, and Josab (or
Joseph), and the strife of Andrew, the martyrs.
be to God Who is glorified in His Saints.