Joseph the Hymnographer

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Joseph the Hymnographer was a monk during the 9th century who was a stronge defender of the reverence of icons during the inconoclastic period. He is remembered for being a prolific writer of hymns, as noted throughout the Parakletike.


Saint Joseph the Hymnographer was born in Sicily in 816. After being brought up by pious parents, he became a monk at the monastery of Latmos in his youth. Due to his piety and love towards God as a monk, he was praised by Saint Gregory the Dekapolite. Together with Saint Gregory, Saint Joseph staunchly defended the reverence of icons and preached his stance to others.

During the time of heresy in the Orthodox Church, Saint Joseph was chosen as a messenger to Pope Leo III, who was still in unity with the Eastern Church. During one of his trips as a messenger, the saint was captured by Arab bandits, who delivered him to the iconoclasts for imprisonment. While in prison he inspired others to stand strong against the heretics. It was also during his imprisonment that Saint Nicholas of Myra appeared to him in a vision and asked him to sing in the name of God. Afterwards Saint Joseph was freed from prison.

After being freed he founded a monastery in dedication to Saint Gregory Dekapolite, who was no longer living by this time. He also dedicated a church in the name of Apostle Bartholomew, whom he honored greatly. While in strict fasting before the Feast of the Apostle Bartholomew, the apostle appeared to him in a dream and encouraged him to write hymns for the church. After writing his first hymn in honor of Apostle Bartholomew, Saint Joseph dedicated other hymns to Saint Nicholas, who freed him from prison, the Theotokos, and other saints.

When the heresy of Iconoclasm returned, he again stood steadfast against the movement and was sent to exile.

When he was at old age and ill, the saint was told by the Lord that his life would soon be coming to an end. In response, Saint Joseph prayed intensively until his death, praying for peace for the Church and for mercy on his soul. He fell asleep in the Lord around 863. His legacy carries on as many canons in the Menaion and hymns in the Parakletike were composed by Saint Joseph the Hymnographer.