Brother Joseph, or monk Amvrosii.
Born 05/ 13/ 1941, Valparaiso, Chile – †10/ 31/ 1997, Athens, Greece.
Doctor of Theosophy and World’s Arts History. Unique Icon-painter (ROCOR) and
The faithful guardian of the greatest Miracle of the XX century: the Iberian Montreal Myrrh-Streaming Icon of the Virgin.
Jose Cortes in his student years. Flag and coat of Arms of Valparaiso
Captain of the Corvette «Esmeralda» Agustin Arturo Prat Chacon,
the national hero of Chile (04/ 03/ 1848 – 05/ 21/ 1879)
BIRTH. FAMILY. EDUCATION.
Son of ocean
Jose Cortes was born on the day of St. Apostle James Zebedee on May 13th, 1941, in the city of Valparaiso, Chile. The life of Jose is intimately connected with the Apostle Jacob as his conversion to Orthodoxy took place in the town of Santiago, the site of the Apostle's holy relics. Furthermore, Jose's birth city of Valparaiso, which is no less remarkable, translates to “Paradise Valley.” The emblem of that city depicts an eagle with wings outstretched over the Virgin Mary. In the hands of the Virgin Mary, a lantern illuminates the path of the sailors. The motto on the coat of arms reads: "Guardian of Paradise Valley." Jose is and was in life to become a faithful Guardian and Knight of the Virgin Mary.
On his mother's side, Señora Maria Clementina del Carmen Cortes-Fernández's, José is a descendant of an ancient Catholic clan. It is safe to assume that Jose was destined to be the heir to the royal Borbon Dynasty since the family's coat of arms depicts three golden crowns as well as a shield decorated with golden lilies that are characteristic of the clan. Jose's family was not wealthy, but his mother and grandmother reverently preserved rich, generations-old traditions of gallantry, faith, and Knighthood. In his family, family history was passed from word of mouth for seven centuries to the firstborn, who must be named after Joseph the Handler. The firstborn also had an obligation to serve the Most Holy Virgin eventually. Jose knew his family's traditions and history from early childhood.
Jose's father, José del Transito Muñoz Johnson was an English sailor. His father’s grandmother, Mary Johnson, was a talented watercolor painter whose work has always inspired Jose. His relationship with his great-grandmother was the first and most significant exposure to art. Under her guidance, the boy soon began to draw and became passionate about pursuing art. However, with the cares of a deeply religious mother, Jose grew up at a church, served as an altar boy, sang in the church choir, and participated in church celebrations. In fact, from an early age, he was given over to the Service of God. Nevertheless, the craving to draw, to experience everything beautiful and valiant, would forever persevere throughout his life.
THE SON OF THUNDER
James the Great choose and blessed the boy from Santiago,
who was born in Santiago’s Feast Day
Jose was a kind and obedient boy. He respected his elders and took care of his siblings. Jose was the firstborn of his large family, which included two brothers and three sisters. He bore responsibility for them, raised them, defended them, and he also supported and helped his mother. Collected and disciplined, learning was easy for Jose. He read a great deal, particularly history, biographies, and adventure books. In his free time, when he was not in church or helping around the home, he loved to swim and dove into the vast ocean to argue with the waves. The stormy winds brought him courage, tempered his will, and gave him strength. The Pacific Ocean, with all of its might, beauty, and romance, has molded the future Chosen One.
Jose swam like a dolphin, and for hours, he could sit on the shore, admiring all the ships and sailboats that would travel along the ocean. He would also spend his time collecting seashells and building sand castles. His heart would beat from the bright blue vastness which carried vague presentiments and a mysterious call from the future. Surely, he often envisioned himself to one day step onboard his corvette and to conquer the world. His father encouraged his son's dreams and saw the potential for him to eventually grow up to be a navigator and a sea captain since Jose was so tall and robust.
Moreover, Jose himself, like all other boys who grew up by the sea, dreamed of travel, of exploits, and of adventure. He wanted to be like just like his role model, Captain Arturo Prat. Tellingly, a family photo of Jose from when he was about two years old, still in his mother’s arms, reveals him already in a sailor suit with a blue beret and a white pompom.
MEETING BISHOP LEONTY
The Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church in Santiago,
where the Chosen One was growing up
In 1954, at the age of 13, Jose accidentally heard church singing on José Street. The incredible beauty of the Church of the Most Holy Trinity, the mystery of the Icon of the Kazan Mother of God, the gorgeous melodies--all struck the young man as he stumbled upon the Sunday Liturgy in the Russian Orthodox Church. As José entered the Temple, he suddenly felt an inexpressible grace, a sign of God's presence. His purpose was then clearly revealed to him, which was to be part of this Church. He soon after became a parishioner of the Russian Church Orthodox Abroad, as well as a disciple of a famous ascetic, Archbishop Leonty of Chile (Filippovich). With the consent of his mother, he converted to Orthodoxy.
Lord Leonty was not just a like-minded person to Jose, but he was also very akin to John of Shanghai and San Francisco. He grew to love the unusual Chilean boy with all of his heart. He often said to the boy: «No, not in vain, not in vain did you enter our Temple! Nothing is accidental in the world. You have called the Mother of God. For some reason, She need you ...» Soon, with the consent and blessings of his beloved mother, who had always understood her son like no one else, Jose converted to Orthodoxy through the Holy Sacrament of Chrismation.
The Archbishop Leonty often spoke to Jose about Religion, History and the modern world, as well as the Russian perspective on the Apocalypse. He visited the boy and his family in their home, and he raised Jose to be a faithful monarchist. Moreover, the Holy Educator, as he was born and became the priest in Kiev, passed into Jose’s hands the great spiritual treasures of Russian Church. The treasures included the relics of the Saints of Kiev-Pechersk Lavra. Later in Montreal Jose will put his Icon near relicts and soon, the miracle will happen… With the care and prayers of Father Leonty, José did not take a personal interest in the social protests that swept the youth of Chile at the time. By his essence, Jose was a natural leader; if he did not become an Orthodox leader, he might have well become a social leader akin to Che, or Victor Hara.
Archbishop Leomty of Chile with youth Russian Orthodox Christians
It can be said that the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad of Russia nurtured and saved the Chosen One by sheltering him from the evil that was rampant in 1973. The Church watered and fed him, formed his views, his character, his passions, and gave him direction in life. That time was particularly difficult for him since his large, relatively poor family did not have much food. So, Jose ate mainly in the Temple of the Most Holy Trinity. There he grew up to be almost 2 meters tall--a real giant. Besides seafood, his favorite food was always Russian bread, borsch, buckwheat, piroshkis, and Russian sweets.
Generously gifted with many talents from birth, José graduated from high school with honors and entered the University of Fine Arts in Santiago. He graduated from the university with excellence and promptly began to write his doctoral thesis on World Art History. While working on his thesis, he worked as a teacher, gave art lessons, and continued to paint. Under the watchful supervision of the Archbishop Leonitius, Jose increasingly began to understand what it meant to live a spiritual life. Eventually, he became determined to become an iconographer. Upon hearing Jose's wishes, Father Leonty did everything he could to help Jose's dream come true. In June 1973, just before the tragic events that transpired in Chile, Jose moved to Canada at the personal invitation of Archbishop Vitaly (Ustinov). Jose planned to eventually arrive at Jordanville Seminary (USA) to dedicate his life to Iconography. The Artist had no issue moving to North America since he was fluent in English. After all, it was his native language since his father's side was English.
Jose was only 32, the same age as Christ, when he left his beloved home country to make the Church of Canada his new home.
SECOND STAGE OF DESTINY: CANADA
Jose was a professor of Art History at the University of Montreal. Canada.
This photo was taken in the 1980’s, probably in Athens, Greece
Alas, these hopes could not be realized. In the New World, Jose did not meet the warmth and support that Father Leonty gave him so generously in Chili. The young artist, a passionate romantic and a dreamer from a colorful country who grew up in an ardently religious family, had to adapt to the coldness, emptiness, and disunity of the materialistic West. However, it was not without reason that he was trained by the powerful ocean to press onwards as he remembered his heroic ancestors. With a mighty hand and outstretched arm, the Chosen One of the Queen of Heaven was guided along the path of self-growth and development. Adhering to strict religious beliefs, Jose performed daily a prayer rule form the monastic Charter, which helped him maintain a vital creative outlet in Canada.
Through social services directed toward émigrés, José took courses in French and enrolled in the University of Montreal where he studied in the Theological Department. Because he studied the History of Christianity in depth, he regularly toured the Holy Land in Jerusalem. He visited the Church of Mary Magdalene in Bethany, where he received the wimple of Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna. It was the same wimple that was found in the mine near Alapayevsk. Over time, he acquired a great collection of shrines and relics of God's saints from all over the world in his humble apartment in Montreal. José particularly treasured the wimple of the Great Mother. Understanding the full degree of responsibility towards maintaining the holy relic, he searched the archives for all possible information about her, collected photographs, and constantly prayed to the Royal Martyrs.
Successfully graduating from the University, he received his diploma in Higher Education and a Doctoral degree in Theology. The subject of his doctoral dissertation was "Mission, Sermon, and Routes of the Apostle Paul." As he studied theology in all these years in one of the most prestigious universities in the world, Jose did not neglect his love for painting. He devoted much time to studying different schools of iconography and worked in the workshop of one of the most famous icon painters, Nikolai Shelekhov.
During this time, he plunged into World Culture and became more deeply involved with Russian History and Emigration. He attended exhibitions, museums, and concerts of classical music. He loved Bel Canto, Opera, Flamenco, and he danced superbly. Jose also wanted to gain experience in the Byzantine ascetic manner as it resonated the most with him, so nearly every year, he visited the Holy Mountain Athos and was acquainted with all of the monasteries, hermitages, and cells. There, he was tonsured and advanced into the rassophore degree of monasticism. He was renamed to Amvrosy. Theology, spirituality, artistic technique, music and culture all went hand in hand in Jose's life, and they freely developed without contradicting or interfering with each other.
THE APPEARANCE OF THE MONTREAL SAINT
THE GRATEST MIRACLE OF THE XX CENTURY.
The Royal, gorgeous Icon started to stream myrrh on November, 24 1982,
That was the Feast Day of St. Alexander of Nevsky
At the end of October in 1982, he received an indication from Above to return to Athos. He visited the Nativity Skete and was struck by a copy of a Byzantine icon that was created by the schema-monk-icon painter, Fr. Chrysostom in 1981. That was the year when the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) glorified the Royal Martyrs and the New Martyrs of Russia. Jose persistently asked Fr. Chrysostom to sell him the Icon, but Jose received a firm refusal. However, at the very last moment during his departure, Jose miraculously still received the Shrine as a gift from the abbot of the skete, Clement (†1997). When presenting the Holy Object, the rector said, "The Blessed Virgin wished to go with you, but when she finishes Her Mission, She will return to us again." The Holy Father did not take the money that Jose offered for the incredible Icon. Jose was joyous and amazed, as well as shocked by what happened.
The very first thing Jose did was take the Icon to the Monastery of Iveron so that the copy could touch the ancient Original. Jose stayed close to the Icon until his departure in the early morning. When he arrived in Montreal on November 3rd, he placed the Mother of God between the holy relic of Elizabeth Feodorovna and the relics from Kiev-Pechersk. Every day he chanted the Akathist and made prostrations for weeks. The icon started to stream on November 24th. As Jose recounted,
«On the 24th of November, I was awakened at three o’clock in the morning by the powerful aroma of roses – the whole room was filled with it. At first, I thought that it emanated from the relics or from a spilled vial of perfume; but upon approaching the icon, I was struck! The whole icon was covered with oil—a fragrant oil! I froze on the spot at such a miracle! Soon, the Icon was carried to the temple and constantly streamed myrrh, with the exception of Holy Week...the myrrh streamed mainly from the hands of the Mother of God and Christ, as well as the star on the right shoulder of the Most Pure...the back side of the Icon was always dry.»
GLOBAL FAME AND GLORY
At the tomb of St. John of Shanghai and St. Francis.
Easter of Christ, 1995. San-Francisco. USA.
The news of the miraculous phenomenon quickly spread. At first, Jose often brought the Icon to St. Nicholas Cathedral in Montreal, where a vast number of people visited the Icon. According to eyewitnesses, the myrrh had a robust and specific aroma, resembling a rare variety of African lilies. There was so much of the precious myrrh that people collected it in vessels. Moreover, when the Icon visited the Lesninsky Monastery in France, a site of special veneration for the Grand Duchess Elizabeth and all of the Romanovs, the myrrh flowed like a river from the Icon--it streamed unto the floor and the stairs. The Holy Myrrh flooded the monastery. Every drop of that precious myrrh, even just the fragrance of it, can heal any disease. The Montreal Myrrh-Streaming Icon, or also simply, José Icon, was soon termed the «greatest miracle of the 20th century». The whole world learned about this Icon.
Prominent Church faces flew in to worship the Mother of God and to honor the great Miracle that occurred, as well as public figures, such as presidents, monarchs, models, and actors. The people who came to see the miracle first hand were from all walks of faith--not just Christian. All those who met Jose in church during liturgical services noted his great modesty that can even be described as shyness, but Jose's world fame and popularity has caused an enormous impact in not just the Church, but also on the world like no other before. Even Vitaly Ustinov, the future metropolitan and the last Primate of the ROCOR, heeded Jose's advice and followed any instruction.
Jose became a sensation in the modern world, but he maintained his simplicity and devotion with his purity and innocence. His humility had a greatness that was felt by everyone who was lucky enough to see or exchange words with Brother Joseph. Even his appearance was unusual as it was regal: a majestic posture with chivalrous manners, yet he had a soft-spoken voice that was warm and sincere. José was the Godfather of 60 children, as well as the Russian Diaspora. Orthodox baptisms were received by thousands of people after Jose's visits with the Icon. The Iveron Montreal Icon has formed a world family that raised a whole generation of convinced idealists, and Jose became a leader and role model for all Orthodox youth.
SON OF THUNDER.
THE EAGLE OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN.
THE CHILEAN LION & KNIGHT OF STEEL
BRIGHTERST STAR OF XX CENTURY: JOSE CORTES
1992 ã. The 10-th Anniversary of Miracle.
«God’s Finger», the Hale-Bopp comet. 1997. Easter of Christ.
In all of the history of the Church, no one has seen such a phenomenon where the Hodegetria streamed for so long and so abundantly. Moreover, the Hodegetria that streamed represented the Orthodox State, the Russian Throne, the Russian Tsars. Jose himself has said that the Icon showed approval of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad as the Church glorified the New Martyrs of Russia in 1981. For 15 years, Jose was the faithful keeper of the Shrine, bringing the Icon not only to Orthodox parishes but also to those who would benefit from the Icon's visit, such as those in hospitals, schools, shelters and in the homes of believers of all denominations. The Theotokos directed the guardian where to go and who needed them most that day. As a faithful son, he was accustomed to listening, which at times caused objection from the church leadership.
As often with the case of fame, there was a dark side of Jose's glory; the envy, greed, moral pressure, and criticism from church politics bombarded him from all sides and it brought him nothing but grief and problems. “Where there is grace, there are temptations,” José acknowledged to his trusted friends. Only they knew the price of a victorious march through the world with an Orthodox Shrine--truly one had to be a Chilean lion, an Eagle and a Knight of Steel to keep, to protect, and to bring the Miracle to all. After all, the antiChrist ruled not only the world but also the Church in the '80s and '90s, so a person of mighty character was required to withstand the onslaught of evil. If the Mother of God spent 15 years in the ROCOR, this means one thing: that José accomplished an unprecedented feat by heroically surviving within peaceful churches as he guarded the streaming Hodegetria for 15 long years.
All the continents of the Earth have been consecrated, ennobled, and cleansed with José Icon. The souls of the people were transformed and united in repentance and in gratitude to the Creator. They accepted Holy Baptism, were healed, and millions of people were converted to the faith. Jose was a mentor for countless people seeking Salvation as well as a Godfather to 58 children--the world has changed as a new generation of people basked in the glory of the Montreal Iveron Icon. In all countries, Jose was known as Brother Joseph, and he truly was as he was always available to pray for others or to come to help those in need. Only in one week in the city of Sofia, Bulgaria (October 1995), more than half a million believers came to the Icon. There was an enormous line to the Church of the Assumption that stretched up to 10 km daily to see the Montreal Icon. After the Icon's departure, people still flowed into the church, because the grace and the fragrance did not.
THE WAY OF THE CROSS
AND THE FEAT.
1995. Easter of Christ. Jerusalem
Such was the glory of Christ the Savior, His Most Pure Mother, and the actions of José, the man who faithfully fulfilled Their will in the defense and freedom of the People of God. His deeds, of course, could not but arouse wild rage and hatred of his enemies who had a disdain for the Orthodox faith. In the summer of 1997, Jose was betrayed by a false priest, Viktor Potapov, whose real surname is Golden. This tricky CIA man «Potapov» posted information on his website about the precious stones and pearls on the Icon's exterior. Such information can provoke different kinds of criminals. This dirty deed was done by man, who was a member of the same Church, as Jose was all his life, ROCOR. It was the ultimate betrayal.
Jose immediately called the «priest» and asked to remove this information. It wasn't because Jose was concerned about his life, but he told: «Why you deprive people of a miracle?» He asked, but received no answer as this man abruptly hung up. Even then in New York, Jose told his friends that, «They have been hunting me down for 15 years and it seems they have finally got to me…» And «They» he meant the «House of Icon» and the Potapovs.
José was warned by his spiritual mentor, Clement of Athos, about what would happen in 1997. Jose was aware of the martyrdom to come. Back in 1995 in Bulgaria, Jose said that to die for Christ, «Is the greatest honor that a Christian can be given, which shouldn't be feared, and we should all be ready for it.» He himself was selected and was prepared for the feat from birth. In the eve of Easter 1997, the comet Hale-Bopp appeared, which foretold of the coming of incredible events for Christians. On October 29th 1997, the ancient fresco of the Praying Mother of God began to weep on the eve of the great historical upheaval. José himself, on the day before his Deed in Athens, repeatedly told his companion, Fr. Alexander Ivashevich, «I feel that something terrible will happen soon ...» On that night, against the backdrop of the bustling Metropolis of Athens, Jose recorded a message of his Testament to his future descendants: «May everyone grow in the Spirit and become holy men and holy women».
To be finishing…
From grateful humanity
LUCH 2015 – 2019