January 26, 2018

Holy Hierarch Joseph the Merciful, Metropolitan of Moldova (+ 1902)

Metropolitan Joseph (Iosif Naniescu) was born on July 15, 1818 into the family of the priest Ananias Mihalache, receiving the name of John at Baptism. Left fatherless at the age of two, he was raised by his mother, Theodosia, until at the age of ten he was entrusted to the care of his uncle, Hierodeacon Theophylact of the Frumoasa Monastery in Bessarabia.

Accompanied by him, in 1831 he went to Iaşi to live in the Monastery of Saint Spyridon, which was then under the leadership of Archbishop Varlaam Cuza Sardeo. On 23 January 1835 he was tonsured and took the name Joseph. He then followed Hierodeacon Theophylact to the Monastery of the Holy Prophet Samuel in Focşani, where, on November 23, 1835 he was tonsured into monasticism by Bishop Chesarie, and the next day he was ordained a hierodeacon.

He attended the courses of the newly-established seminary in Buzău from 1836 to 1840, then those of Saint Sava’s in Bucharest from 1840 to 1847. He fulfilled the obediences of the rector of Şerbăneşti-Morunglavu Monastery from 1849 to 1857, and Găiseni Monastery from 1857 to 1863, was ordained a hieromonk on August 29, 1850, and elevated to the rank of archimandrite in 1860.

For a short period (1863-1864) he was the abbot at Sărindar Monastery in Bucharest. He also worked as a professor of religion at the Gh. Lazarus School (1864-1866), the “Matei Basarab” Lyceum (1866-1873) and at the “Carol I” School (1867-1873).

On April 23, 1872, he was consecrated as a bishop, and on January 18, 1873 he was appointed Bishop of Arges, where he pastored for a short time, until his election, on June 10, 1875, as Metropolitan of Moldavia. He was installed in Iaşi on July 6, 1875, where with a rare gentleness and wisdom he shepherded until his death on January 26, 1902. His tomb is located in the southern part of the metropolitan cathedral he completed. The Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox canonized Metropolitan Joseph on October 5, 2017.