SAINT JOSEPH OF BISHWAW
A monk from Qift who lived with Saint ELIAS OF BISHWAW (feast day: 5 Hatur). He was the son of parents who were important in this village. His father being already dead, his mother called him to her deathbed. Joseph said to her, “Why are you forsaking me?” She replied, “I am entrusting you to Jesus Christ, my Lord. He will not forsake you, and will never be far from you.” According to the SYNAXARION, he had several brothers, the eldest of whom received him into his home and took care of him.
God, his first tutor, suggested to him that he cross the river and withdraw into the cave of Saint ELIAS OF BISHWAW. He there found the book of the prophet Elias and began to read in a very sweet voice, which caused Saint Elias to say, “May this young man remain here and spend the feast of Easter with us, that we may hear him read!”
Joseph returned to the town, and Anba Elias had a vision in which he received a palm that bore fruits in the place where he was. Joseph answered the call of the Lord Jesus Christ. He abandoned the world and embraced the monastic life. He asked his brothers for his share of the inheritance, which they gave him, some 120 gold denarii, not counting the furniture of the house. His brothers said, “What will you do with it? Do not squander it—leave it with us to keep safe.” He answered, “You do not need it.” He distributed it to the poor and needy, the widows and the orphans.
Crossing the Nile, he became a monk in the mountain of Benhadab. He fell sick, and said to himself, “If I recover and regain my health, I will live with Saint Elias.” This was done, and he did not leave Saint Elias until his death. He applied to himself the gospel saying, “It is enough for the disciple to be as his master, and the servant as his lord” (Mt. 10:25). He applied himself to asceticism, consuming neither bread nor olives. He contented himself with berries and gave himself up to strict fasting. He spent the greater part of the night in prayer, to the point that he fell ill, spitting blood. But one night as the brethren surrounded him, Jesus came to heal him. He then resumed his asceticism to the point of becoming so thin that his skin adhered to his bones. Allowing himself no rest, he fell sick again, and died at the age of thirty-three.
- Graf, G. Catalogue de Manuscrits arabes chrétiens conservés au Caire. Studi e Testi 63. Cairo, 1934.
- Troupeau, G. Catalogue des manuscrits arabes, premiére partie: manuscrits chrétiens, Vol. 1. Paris, 1972.