or Brother Joseph, or monk Amvrosii.
Born 05/ 13/ 1941, Valparaiso, Chile – †10/ 31/ 1997, Athens, Greece.
Doctor of the 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.
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 with Bishop Leontius
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 Leontius 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, you need her ..."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.
Father 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. 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.
It can be said that the Russian Church Abroad 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
At the tomb of St. John of Shanghai and St. Francis.
Easter of Christ, 1995
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
Jose Cortes and the Greatest Miracle of the XX century
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.»
To be continued…
LUCH 2015 – 2018