Russian Monk Imprisoned by the Soviets Miraculously Survives After Being Visited by a Saint and Eating Heavenly Bread

“Why did I eat the entire prosphora then? It was a Heavenly prosphora. I could’ve left at least a little.”

Originally appeared at: Orthodox Christianity

Schema-Archimandrite Josiah (Evseyenok)
Schema-Archimandrite Josiah (Evseyenok)

Schema-Archimandrite Josiah, Ivan Zinovievich Evseyenok in the world, was born into a peasant family in the village of Solovevka, Novozybkovsky County, Chernigov Governorate, on May 7, 1896, on the eve of the day of the holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian, in whose honor the newborn was baptized. At eight years old, Vanya went to the Gethsemane Skete of the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra, where his father was a novice. At first, he had the obedience of shoemaker, then he became the cell attendant of the last head of the Gethsemane Skete, Igumen Israel (Andreyev). The novice Ivan was tonsured into monasticism with the name Joseph after 1924 and ordained a hierodeacon.

In 1931, Igumen Israel was arrested and sentenced to ten years in exile in Kazakhstan. At their parting, he gave Fr. Joseph some spiritual directions and added: “Whatever sins you commit, just don’t lose your chastity.” After parting with his elder, Hierodeacon Joseph served in Moscow for some time. Having learned that Fr. Israel was sent to Semipalatinsk, he managed to get a transfer to serve there. In 1937, Igumen Israel was shot in Semipalatinsk, and Hierodeacon Joseph was arrested and sent to the Komi Republic for ten years.

During one of his incarcerations, a miracle happened to him. In the dead of winter, he fell ill with pneumonia and spent several days in the infirmary with a 104° fever. Convinced that their patient was on the verge of death, the doctors decided not to waste any time or medicine on him, and ordered him to be moved to an unheated room. He wouldn’t live to see the morning anyways, they figured.

It was a cold, dark night, and suddenly he saw St. Sergius of Radonezh coming to him, saying: “I’m taking care of those of you who are in exile, outside the monastery, even more,” and he held out a prosphora. It looked like a prosphora from the Lavra, and Fr. Joseph felt its warmth in his frozen palm, as if it had just been baked. He ate the prosphora. The next morning, expecting to find him dead, the doctors came with two men to carry his corpse off for burial. How shocked they were when they saw that Batiushka was not only alive, but even looked completely healthy. Thus, St. Sergius saved Fr. Joseph’s life. Later, when he was released and returned to his native monastery, Batiushka regretted only one thing: “Why did I eat the entire prosphora then? It was a Heavenly prosphora. I could’ve left at least a little.”

After returning from exile in 1946, Fr. Joseph was received at the Lavra, and in 1948, he became a full-time hierodeacon there. On December 24, 1948, he was arrested again and sentenced to exile in the Krasnoyarsk Region by the Special Council of the Soviet Ministry of State Security.

In September 1949, Metropolitan Bartholomew of Novosibirsk and Barnaul in Krasnoyarsk ordained Fr. Joseph as a hieromonk and appointed him rector of the Holy Trinity Church in the village of Alexandro-Yershi, Dzerzhinsky District, Krasnoyarsk Region. The commissioner refused to register Fr. Joseph because he was in exile, though he was later rehabilitated by the Turkmen Military Tribunal on November 12, 1955. Upon his return from exile, he returned to the Lavra and was elevated to the rank of archimandrite. In 1957, he was sent as an obedience to serve in the Church of the Transfiguration of the Lord in the village of Peredelkino.

In 1963, after undergoing surgery, he returned to the Lavra. Shortly before his death, he was tonsured into the schema with the name Josiah.

Schema-Archimandrite Josiah reposed on May 17, 1970. He was buried in the North Cemetery in Sergiev Posad.

Translation by Jesse Dominick

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