April 4, 2017

Saint Joseph the Much-Ailing of the Kiev Caves Lavra

St. Joseph the Much-Ailing (Feast Day - April 4)

Saint Joseph the Much-Ailing lived during the fourteenth century. He suffered from various diseases, which is why he is called "much-ailing" or "many-ailings". In his grievous illness he turned to God with prayer and vowed that if the Lord granted him health, he would then serve the brethren of the Kiev Caves Monastery until the end of his days.

After his return to health, he entered the Kiev Caves Monastery, received monastic tonsure, and began to work at deeds of fasting and prayer, and to serve the brethren in obedience till the day of his death. After his death Saint Joseph's incorrupt relic was buried in the Far Caves.

In modern Russian Orthodox literature, the fate of the Monk Joseph is cited as an example of a Christian attitude toward illness. Archpriest Sergius Filimonov, a doctor of the Medical Sciences and head of the Society of Orthodox Physicians of St. Petersburg, noted:

"And remember the monks of the Kiev Caves Lavra - the much-ailing Joseph and Pimen. Only shortly before their death, God sent them health. They stayed in sickness not just because through their physical infirmities they were saved, atoning for some sins, which the Lord knew, but they themselves received from God the grace to heal other people."

It should be noted that both Old Believers and Russian Orthodox claim that his fingers after death are in the form of the sign of the Cross made by each. Old Believers cross themselves with two fingers joined, while Russian Orthodox cross themselves with three fingers joined. This is still debated.