St. Joseph the Merciful, Metropolitan of Moldavia; Sts. Xenophon, Maria, Arcadius and John of Constantinople

Metropolitan Iosif Naniescu, canonized under the name of the Holy Hierarch Joseph the Merciful, Metropolitan of Moldavia, was born in 1820 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.

Accompanied by him, in 1831 he went to Iaşi to live in the Monastery of St. Spyridon, which was then under the leadership of the bishop Varlaam Cuza Sardeo.

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 into monasticism 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 fulfilled the obediences of the 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 religion 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.

Saint Xenophon, his wife Maria, and their sons Arcadius and John were noted citizens of Constantinople and lived in the fifth century. Despite their riches and position, they distinguished themselves by their simplicity of soul and goodness of heart. Wishing to give their sons John and Arcadius a more complete education, they sent them off to the Phoenician city of Beirut.

By divine Providence, the ship on which both brothers sailed was wrecked. The waves tossed the brothers ashore at different places. Grieved at being separated, the brothers dedicated themselves to God and became monks. For a long time, the parents had no news of their children and presumed them to be dead.

Xenophon, however, already quite old, maintained a firm hope in the Lord and consoled his wife Maria, telling her not to be sad, but to believe that the Lord watched over their children. After several years the couple made a pilgrimage to the holy places, and at Jerusalem they met their sons, living in asceticism at different monasteries. The joyful parents gave thanks to the Lord for reuniting the family.

Saints Xenophon and Maria went to separate monasteries and dedicated themselves to God. The monks Arcadius and John, having taken leave of their parents, went out into the wilderness, where after long ascetic toil they were glorified by gifts of wonderworking and discernment. Saints Xenophon and Maria, laboring in silence and strict fasting, also received from God the gift of wonderworking.

Tr by oca.org & orthochristian.com

Photo credit: Robert Nicolae / Basilica.ro

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