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September 12, 2020

Monk Joachim the Hesychast and Former Bandit (+ 1889)

Cave of Monk Joachim

By Hieromonk Anthimos Agiannanitis

A famous Kleft and Armatolos during the years of Turkish rule in Crete, a great protector of Christians, and a cause of fear to the Turks.

The following events are characteristic of this man, which show his patriotism, his pure faith, and his guileless character.

Crete was ruled by a terrible pasha who constantly persecuted the Christians and subjected them to horrible tortures. Then John, as was the name of the Kleft and Armatolos, swore to avenge the sufferings of his fellow believers.

He guarded a passage and killed the pasha, but did not take any of the money the Ottoman tyrant had with him.

At the same time he forbade anyone to take the money with the death penalty. The body of the Ottoman was devoured by the vultures.

Of course, John became the target of all the Turks.

Then the Christians and those Turks who appreciated his virtues, in order to protect him from the terrible retaliation of the conqueror, had him flee from the island and sent him to Thessaly, until he became the guardian and custodian of the property of a Turk.

There he went to a small church, which due to aggradation was just below the ground, and prayed with contrition, shedding rivers of tears for his afflicted brethren.

His piety moved the Turkish chiftlik, who sent him to become a monastic at the Skete of Saint Anna on Mount Athos.

Others say that Saint Anna herself appeared to him to save him when he was in Crete. She asked him, after compromising with the pasha, to come to Mount Athos. However, this information is unconfirmed.

When he arrived at the Skete, he asked to be tonsured a monk and to take the name Anna. The fathers, however, rejected this name, which was female, and gave him the name of Saint Joachim, the spouse of the Holy Foremother.

He lived as a monk in a cave, subjecting himself to a very hard asceticism, keeping vigil and praying, fighting with the elements of nature and the demons.

At one time the demons, to prevent him from coming to the vigil of the Akathist Hymn, threw him into a cliff. As soon as the fathers felt his absence from the church, they rushed in search of him shouting for him.

When they finally found him, they immediately took the ropes and pulled him out. At the same time they forbade him to stay away from the Skete and gave him a cell above the cemetery.

There he served until his old age the Liturgy that took place daily. He was found worthy to receive from God the gift of foresight and the gift to cure deafness, blindness, paralysis and other diseases.

The Russian Church has officially declared him a saint because of the healing he has given to deaf and blind children of the Russian Orthodox faithful.

These events are also recorded in Russian lithographs.

Source: From the book of the Hieromonk Anthimos Agiannanitis, Saint Anna: The Sacred Altar of Mount Athos, Athens, 1986. Translation by John Sanidopoulos.