July 3, 2013

Saint Joachim the New God-bearer of Notenon Monastery

St. Joachim the New of Notenon (Feast Day - July 3)

Saint Joachim was born in the 17th century (or according to some sources the late 16th century), in the village of Skiada located at the southwest foot of Mount Erymanthos, in the area of ​​Triteas today, in the province of Old Patras (Achaia). At a young age, and against his will, he was betrothed to a pious young woman, who came from the same village.

Joachim however, inflamed with a desire for the monastic life, abandoned his parents and fiance and became a monk at the Monastery of Chrysopigi, located above the village of Divri in the region of Ilia. At the Monastery of Chrysopigi the Saint reached such a great height of virtue and holiness that he was judged worthy by the Abbot of the Monastery to take the great office of the Priesthood. Living thus humbly within the brotherhood, following the repose of the Abbot of the Monastery, he was elected to be his successor.

He then went to the Monastery of Notenon, located near his hometown and honored with the name Dormition of the Theotokos. There he became Abbot. Not many years passed, however, when, inflamed with desire for quietude, he resigned from his position as abbot and retired to a cave near the Monastery.

In that small cave the Saint engaged in difficult asceticism, with constant prayers, fastings and vigils, enduring every hardship and sadness of the ascetic state, determined to cleanse himself from the passions and become a useful vessel of the Holy Spirit. His food was flour porridge boiled with honey, or cooked wild grass.

His great spiritual struggles were hidden, because he feared that "apparent virtue is lost, just as apparent treasure is stolen". Thus, every night he slept upright, hanging by ropes from his armpits, having the four Gospels opened before him.

Though completely uneducated, he so much understood Holy Scripture and the writings of the Holy Fathers, that the then Metropolitan of Old Patras, Parthenios V (1750-56 and 1759-70), who was very educated in Greek wisdom, condescended to go to him for advice.

In this way the venerable Joachim lived and struggled every day of his life, until he became "a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13). In the mid-18th century, understanding that the time of his passing away was near, he invited over the fathers of the Monastery to admonish how to conduct themselves and live in peace, according to their monastic state. Then, after making the sign of the Cross, he said: "Into your hands, my Christ, I submit my spirit," and so he reposed. He was reverently buried in the narthex of the holy church of the Monastery.

Three years after the repose of the venerable one (according to other sources it was ten years), the Metropolitan of Old Patras mentioned above wanted to conduct the translation of his relic. One of those who were digging, however, carelessly pulled, and in this way he severed from the shoulder the right arm of the Saint with all his skin and meat. This surprised everyone and they began very carefully removing the dirt from his grave with their fingers, until the rest of the body of the Saint emerged completely incorrupt, entirely fragrant, and in some way stood erect, like that of Saint Spyridon.

The fame of the Holy Relic spread everywhere and many Christians ran to it, some to give it veneration, others to be healed of their suffering, and immediately they would receive their healing. And not only Christians, but many Turks came and were healed by the Saint.

After a few years, during the raid of the Turkish Albanians in the Morea, following the failed uprising of the Orlov Revolt (1770), as the Lord saw fit, the Holy Relic dissolved and the Holy Skull was stolen together with other valuables of the Monastery.

Today in the Holy Monastery of Notenon there survives a few Relics of Saint Joachim the New that are fragrant and work various healings for the faithful, while in front of the cave in which the Saint lived in asceticism, a church was built in his name, whose memory is celebrated with brilliance on July 3rd.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos