Blessed Elder Joseph was born on July 1, 1921, the feast day of Saints Anargyri. He fell asleep on the same day, July 1, 2009. He is one of the modern Orthodox figures of Agioreitis, which the Saints Anargyri, it seems, had under their roof.
The Elder’s mother, when she was pregnant with him, visited a small monastery dedicated to the Saints Anargyros in the Yolos region of Cyprus, in order to pray for her pregnancy. There in the courtyard of the monastery, 7 months pregnant, she prematurely felt the pains of childbirth and thus little Socrates was born, which is the secular name of the Elder.
The Saints of Anargyri did not cease to benefit him. When he was subservient to the Elder Joseph the Hesychast, he lived under very difficult and harsh conditions. But neither the rigor of the program, nor the deprivation of the necessary necessities, nor the inhospitality of the place daunted him, as he daily praised God for His Divine Grace and the wishes of the Elders.
Over the years, the Elder became ill, suffering from hemoptysis and stomach bleeding. Again, Aunt Harris accompanied him in this fight, as this man – a model for us – based everything on faith and not on logic. The successive perceptions of divine goodness, the continuing mysterious purpose of Grace, and the unceasing sense of security afforded him by the monastic life, gave the Elder inner elevation and strength to strive.
When his condition worsened the Elder’s Entourage was moved to Nea Sketi, where the climate was milder and the transports were less. He had to proceed with an operation. Then he lived together with the Elder Theophilaktos in the cell of Saints Anargyro. And Elder Joseph writes about it: “for me, Elder Theophylactos, when my stomach broke, he begged Saint Panteleimon a lot and saw him in his Temple and told him that I would be fine and not to have an operation, which had been decided by the my treating physicians. I had an advanced ulcer and no diet, no medicine offered me anything. After abstaining from everything that harmed me for more than two years, there was no other solution than excision. Then the glorious great martyr of Christ, the most sympathetic Panteleimon, intervened and ordered the Elder Theophilaktos to tell me peremptorily not to have an operation, but to leave it to the care of our Virgin Mary. Immediately I was completely cured, and to verify this I practically visited my attending physicians, who knew my disease in its entirety to tell me now in what condition I was. They x-rayed me and found absolutely nothing, just a small scar of an old healed wound.”
On the eve of his falling asleep the Elder confessed to his minister that he feels death coming. The exhaustion he felt caused a drop in blood pressure and pulmonary edema. The Saints Anargyri took him from us early on Wednesday, July 1st, when he took three slow breaths and thus quietly left for eternity.
After his sleep, the first miracle of Elder Joseph of Vatopedinos occurred. At the time of his sleep he had been left with his mouth half open. When it was time to prepare according to the monastic formality, Elder Ephraim commanded that the face be left uncovered. The fathers tried to shut his mouth, but it would not shut. They sewed him up in the solitary cloak, as is customary, and then cut the cloth around his face, as Elder Ephraim commanded, and then they found, an hour and a half after he had fallen asleep, Elder Joseph smiling! This is a miracle that Divine Grace works and cannot be researched and explained scientifically. But only experientially can every pious and humble Christian feel and understand this great event.