His Eminence Metropolitan Teofan of Moldavia and Bukovina carried the crosier that belonged to his predecessor, Saint Joseph the Merciful, during the festive Divine Liturgy celebrated on the first official feast day of the Saint, on January 26.
Metropolitan Teofan presided over the Divine Liturgy at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Iasi, having as concelebrants Bishop Veniamin of Southern Bessarabia, representing the region where Saint Joseph was born, and the assistant bishop to the Iasi Archdiocese, His Grace Calinic of Botosani.
In 2017, Metropolitan Iosif Naniescu was canonized by the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church under the name of the Holy Hierarch Joseph the Merciful, the Metropolitan of Moldavia, to be celebrated on January 26.
St Joseph the Merciful: biography
Metropolitan Joseph was born in 1818 into the family of the priest Ananias Mihalache, receiving the name of John at Baptism. Left fatherless at the age of 1, he was raised by his mother, Theodosia, until at the age of 10 he was entrusted to the care of a relative, Hierodeacon Theophylact of the Frumoasa Monastery in Bessarabia.
Joining him on this, in the year 1831 he came to Iasi, living in the Monastery ‘St. Spiridon’, which is then under the leadership of Archbishop Varlaam Cuza Sardeon. He then followed Hierodeacon Theophylact to the Monastery of the Holy Prophet Samuel in Focşani, where, on November 23, 1835 he was tonsured a monk by Bishop Chesarie, and the next day he was ordained a hierodeacon.
He attended the courses of the newly-established seminary in Buzău from 1836 to 1840, then those of St. Sava’s in Bucharest from 1840 to 1847. He was appointed rector of Şerbăneşti-Morunglavu Monastery from 1849 to 1857, and Găiseni Monastery from 1857 to 1863, was ordained a hieromonk on August 29, 1850, and elevated to the rank of archimandrite in 1860.
For a short period (1863-1864) he was the abbot at Sărindar Monastery in Bucharest. He also worked as a professor of religious education at the Gh. Lazarus School (1864-1866), the “Matei Basarab” Lyceum (1866-1873) and at the “Carol I” School (1867-1873).
On April 23, 1872, he was consecrated as a bishop, and on January 18, 1873 he was appointed bishop of Arges, where he pastored for a short time, until his election, on June 10, 1875, as metropolitan of Moldavia. He was installed in Iaşi on July 6, 1875, where he shepherded until his death on January 26, 1902.
Photography courtesy of Tudorel Rusu / Doxologia