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195

S. Joseph of the Studium.

The third period of Greek Hymnology opens with its most voluminous writer, S. Joseph of the Studium. A Sicilian by birth, he left his native country on its occupation by the Mahometans in 830, and went to Thessalonica, where he embraced the monastic life. Thence he removed to Constantinople, but, in the second Iconoclastic persecution, he seems to have felt no vocation for confessorship, and went to Rome. Taken by pirates, he was for some years a slave in Crete, where he converted many to the Faith; and having obtained his liberty, and returned to the Imperial City, he stood high in the favour, first 196 of S. Ignatius, then of Photius, whom he accompanied into exile. On the death of that great man he was recalled, and gave himself up entirely to Hymnology. A legend, connected with his death, is related of him. A citizen of Constantinople betook himself to the church of S. Theodore in the hope of obtaining some benefit from the intercessions of that martyr. He waited three days in vain; then, just as he was about to leave the church in despair, S. Theodore appeared. “I,” said the vision, “and the other Saints, whom the poet Joseph has celebrated in his Canons, have been attending his soul to Paradise: hence my absence from my church.” The Eastern Communion celebrates him on the 3rd of April. But of the innumerable compositions of this most laborious writer, it would be impossible to find many which, to Western taste, give the least sanction to the position which he 197 holds in the East. The insufferable tediousness consequent on the necessity of filling eight Odes with the praises of a Saint of whom nothing, beyond the fact of his martyrdom, is known, and doing this sixty or seventy different times,—the verbiage, the bombast, the trappings with which Scriptural simplicity is elevated to the taste of a corrupt Court, are each and all scarcely to be paralleled. He is by far the most prolific of the hymn-writers.

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