Commemorated on September 15 and May 7
Saint Joseph, Bishop of Alaverdi, was one of the Twelve Holy
Syrian (Cappadocian) Fathers, the establishers of Georgian Monasticism (May 7).
He, as a "blossom of virginity" from his early years, chose the monastic life.
Having arrived in Georgia with his teacher St John Zedazni (May 7), St Joseph
settled in Kakheti in the unpopulated and barren Alaverdian steppes. Here he
began his ascetic exploits. His spiritual strength was so great that even wild
beasts did not touch him, and the deer of the steppes came and nourished him
with their milk.
One of the Kakheti nobles found himself on the Alaverdian steppes during a
hunt and was so astonished, seeing St Joseph standing at prayer, that he
remained with him.
Reports of the hunter becoming a monk and of the holy life of St Joseph
spread throughout Kakheti. People fervent for piety and the ascetic life began
to throng to the Alaverdian steppe to St Joseph. A monastery thus sprang up, and
a church was built in honor of the Great Martyr George.
Chosen to lead the monastery, St Joseph with fatherly love
concerned himself with the brethren of the monastery, and with the spiritual
enlightenment of Kakheti. Pagan superstitions were still not eradicated, and St
Joseph, with cross in hand, often left his monastic solitude to preach the Word
Seeing St Joseph's holy and blameless life and his sincere
desire to serve them, the Kakheti people willingly and joyfully accepted the
Gospel teaching, abandoning their unbelief and pagan customs.
St Joseph composed a catechism (lost in the sixteenth
century) by which he taught the flock entrusted to him. Nearing the end of his
life of lofty service, St Joseph secluded himself in a narrow cell for complete
His peaceful and blessed repose occurred in the year 570. St
Joseph was buried in the church of the holy Great Martyr George in Alaverdi.
In the ninth century the great Alaverdi cathedral was built
to replace the former church. The body of St Joseph rests on the left side of
the Altar by the north wall.