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A copy of the original portrait of St Joseph the Hesychast (+1959), painted by one of the fathers at Pantanassa Monastery, mounted on Timber and surrounded with a beautiful moulded frame. St Joseph the Hesychast, (Francis Kottis) was born in the island of Paros to George and Maria on February 12, 1897. In his teens, he went to work in Piraeus. At twenty-three he began to read the lives of the Fathers, a spiritual turning point for him. These lives, particularly those of the strict ascetics, and a dream he had, gave him the desire to enter into monasticism. He responded to this desire by fasting and praying in the nearby countryside, which was uninhabited, and then going to Mount Athos.

The future Elder yearned to pray unceasingly, but had great troubles – he could not find a spiritual father, and the indifference of many monks towards unceasing prayer. During this time, he spent time in remote places to recite the Jesus Prayer. Eventually he met Fr Arsenios, who was to become his co-struggler, and found that they shared a common desire for hesychasm, and decided to find an experienced elder. They found Elder Ephraim the Barrel-Maker, and they arranged their lives to provide the maximum silence for praying the Jesus Prayer. In addition to his work and his prayer rule, Fr Joseph went to a cave at sunset to recite the Jesus Prayer for six hours.

After Elder Ephraim the Barrel-Maker’s repose, Fr Joseph and  Fr Arsenios spent summers moving from place to place around the peak of Mount Athos, so as to be unknown and to find and learn from spiritual monks. In winter, however, they returned to their hut in the wilderness at St Basil’s.  Fr Joseph and Fr Arsenios eventually discovered an experienced ascetic and spiritual father, Elder Daniel.

As time passed, the fame of Elder Joseph began to spread. Elder Joseph accepted three brothers to live with them, with others living with them for short periods of time. In 1938, seeking solitude from the increasing number of monks who sought his advice, he went to a cave at Little St Anne’s, where the brotherhood grew to seven monks. soon after, Elder Joseph  moved the brotherhood further down the mountain, nearer the sea, to New Skete. Elder Joseph reposed on the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos August 15, 1959.

In October 2019, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople officially recognised Elder Joseph as a saint of the Holy Orthodox Church.

Background: Little Saint Anne of Mount Athos

Feast Day: 16th August

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