Joseph (St) the Hymnologist
Joseph (St.) The Hymnologist (Josephus hymnographus, a native of Sicily, fled from that island to Africa and then to Greece. He entered a convent at Thessalonica, where he became eminent for his ascetic practices, and for the fluency and gracefulness of his utterance, "so that he easily," says his biographer, "threw the fabled sirens into the shade." Having been ordained presbyter, he went to Constantinople with Gregory of Decapolis, who there became one of the leaders of the "orthodox" party in their struggle with the iconoclastic emperor, Leo the Armenian, which began in A.D. 814. From Constantinople Joseph repaired, at the desire of this Gregory, to Rome, to solicit the support of the pope, but, falling into the hands of pirates, was by them carried away to Crete. Here he remained till the death of Leo the Armenian (A.D. 820), when he was, as his biographer asserts, miraculously delivered, and conveyed to Constantinople. On his return he found his friend and leader Gregory dead, and attached himself to another leader, John, on whose death he caused his body, together with that of Gregory, to be transferred to the deserted church of St. John Chrysostom, in connection with which he established a monastery, that was soon, by the attractiveness of his eloquence, filled with inmates. After this he was, for his strenuous defense of image worship, banished to Chersonae, apparently by the emperor Theophilus, who reigned from A.D. 829 to 842; but, on the death of the emperor, was recalled from exile by the empress Theodora, and obtained, through the favor of the patriarch Ignatius, the office of scenophylax, or keeper of the sacred vessels in the great church of Constantinople. Joseph was equally acceptable to Ignatius and to his competitor and successor Photius. He died at an advanced age in A.D. 883. Joseph is chiefly celebrated as a writer of canones or hymni, of which several are extant in MS., but there is some difficulty in distinguishing his compositions from those of Joseph of Thessalonica. His Canones in omnia Beatoe Virginis Marioe festa, and his Theotocia, hymns in honor of the Virgin, scattered through the ecclesiastical books of the Greeks were published, with a learned commentary and a life of Joseph, translated from the Greek of John the Deacon, by Hippolito Maracci, under the title of Mariale S. Josephi Hymnographi (Rome, 1661). The version of the life of Joseph was by Luigi Maracci, of Lucea, the brother of Ippolito. Another Latin version of the same life, but less exact, by the Jesuit Floritus, was published among the Vitoe Sanctorum Soeclorum of Octavius Cajetanus (Ottavio Gaetano), 2, 43 (Palermo. 1657, folio), and reprinted in the Acta Sanctorum (see below). Some writers suppose that there was another Joseph, a writer of hymns, mentioned in the title of a MS. typicon at Rome as of the monastery of St. Nicolaus Casularum (τῶν Κασούλων). See Vita S. Josephi Hymnographi, in the Acta Sanctorum, s. d. 3 Aprilis, 2, 269, etc., with the commentary of Praevius of Papebroche, and Appendix, p. 24; Fabricius, Bibl. Graec. 11, 79; Menologium Groecorum, jussu Basilii, Imperatoris editum, s.d. 3 Aprilis (Urbino, 1727, folio). — Smith, Dict. Gr. and Rom. Biog. 3, 929.