To the God-loving visitors of our site:
In this section, entitled "the chosen one of the Mother of God," you will become acquainted with the fascinating fate of a man who, in our pragmatic and rational age, dedicated his entire life to a great Orthodox icon. This man was Jose Muñoz-Cortes, who gave 15 years of his life to the guardianship of the wonderworking, myrrh-streaming "Montreal-Iveron" Icon of the Mother of God ("Portaitissa"). He was killed after enduring horrible sufferings on the night of October 30-31, 1997 in Athens, and 13 days later was buried at the cemetery of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY. His grave has become an honored site of pilgrimage and prayer.
The murder of Brother Jose and the disappearance of the Montreal Icon were cause for great pain in the hearts of many children of the Russian Church Abroad and of all those who were able to pray before the wonderworking Icon of the Mother of God that he had guarded.
What led to the murder of Brother Jose and this holy image being hidden from us?
This question was answered by the hierarchs of ROCOR in 2002, in a special "Appeal to the Flock on the 20th anniversary of the Myrrh-streaming Iveron Icon of the Mother of God of Montreal:"
"This icon, which abundantly streamed miracle-working myrrh for 15 years, consoled our Russian [Church Abroad], a visible and tangible symbol of the mercy of the intercession of the Mother of God for us sinners… Did we act in a worthy manner during the presence in our Church of this Icon, which clearly performed miracles? Did we put to good use this visitation of the Mother of Our Lord for our souls, and is it not our collective sin of having grown cold towards this holy Icon and in our prayers, cold to the works of charity and witness to the Orthodox faith, that was the reason for its disappearance, through God's will?
"With tremulous gratitude we prayerfully recall the arrival of this wondrous myrrh-streaming Icon in our Church, and with repentance we pray to the Most Holy Mother of God for the forgiveness of our transgressions, for peace to reign in our Orthodox Church…"
During this life of Brother Jose, we grew accustomed to the Miracle; some of us became indifferent to this concrete revelation of God’s mercy ‒ meanwhile, in Brother Jose’s words, "We must not grow accustomed to miracles."
By God’s grace and mercy, in the beginning of October 2007 ‒ the year of the Restoration of canonical unity within the Russian Orthodox Church ‒ a myrrh-streaming copy of the "Montreal-Iveron" Icon was revealed in Hawaii. Through the appearance of this wonder-working "Hawaiian" Icon, the Lord has shown us the path to correction.
Brother Jose and the "Montreal" Icon were inseparable. They even saw fit to leave us together. The miracle of the original icon has returned to us sinners, and so the memory of Brother Jose must return, as well.
We hope that the materials we have gathered in this section will lead to the veneration of this martyr and his recognition by the whole Church.
We invite you, dear readers, to become a part of the process of glorifying the chosen one of the Mother of God, the last Orthodox martyr of the 20th century. Send in your recollections, instances of miraculous help given to you by God’s grace through the prayers of Brother Jose, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Order panihidas for Brother Jose, tell everyone you can about him, print and distribute the materials about him here in this section.
Lord, Thy will be done!
Archpriest Victor Potapov
Member of the Diocesan Council
Thirty-five years ago, Jose Muñoz-Cortes, an Orthodox Spaniard, was called by the Lord to a special ministry. This ministry began on Mt. Athos, where Jose was given a copy of the famous "Panagia Portaitissa" Icon of the Mother of God for safekeeping, which on the night of November 24, 1982, started to miraculously exude myrrh. Jose sealed his 15 years of ministry to the Most Holy Virgin and the Church of Christ with his martyrdom, which took place 20 years ago – on the night of October 31, 1997.
The year 2017 is significant for several reasons. This year, the children of the Church prayerfully commemorate the restoration of canonical communion between the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Moscow Patriarchate (May 17, 2007), the 35th anniversary of the appearance of the myrrh-streaming Montreal-Iveron Icon of the Mother of God (November 24, 1982), and 20th anniversary of the martyr death of her guardian, Jose Muñoz-Cortes (October 31, 1997), and the 10th anniversary of the appearance of the myrrh-streaming Hawaiian-Iveron Icon of the Mother of God (October 6, 2007).
On Thursday, October 26, His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York, celebrated Divine Liturgy in Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY, on the feast of the Translation of the Iveron Icon of the Mother of God to Moscow. The Liturgy was the culmination of the Pastoral Conference, which was held in honor of the Decennial of the Reunification of the Russian Church and the Appearance of the myrrh-streaming Hawaiian-Iveron Icon of the Mother of God, and the 20th anniversary of the martyrdom of Brother Jose Muñoz-Cortes. With the blessing of Metropolitan Hilarion, Priest Stephen Kaznica (rector of Sts. Peter & Paul Patriarchal Cathedral in Passaic, NJ) delivered the following sermon upon completion of the Liturgy:
On November 5-6, we took our 8th annual parish pilgrimage to Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville. There were two panihida services at the grave of murdered Brother Jose Muñoz-Cortes, curator of the Montreal Iveron Icon of the Mother of God. The following is an excerpt from the homily Archpriest Victor Potapov gave on November 5 at the first panihida.
The following is an account provided by Archpriest Stefan Pavlenko, an eyewitness to how Hieromonk Michael, a resident of Optina Hermitage, had given Fr. Victor a myrrh-streaming copy of the Iveron Icon of the Mother of God. Fr. Stefan is the rector of the Church of All Saints in the Russian Land, in Burlingame, CA.
In 2005, I spent the first week of Great Lent at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville. There Monk Vsevolod gave me a present of a copy of an iconographic image of Brother Jose Muñoz-Cortes, curator of the Miraculous Iveron-Montreal Icon of the Mother of God. It was one of the images of Martyr Joseph written at Optina Hermitage. Although I was surprised to see an icon written before he had been glorified as a saint, I was grateful to receive the gift.
The original miraculous Icon of the Iveron Mother of God is on Mount Athos, the famous center of Orthodox monasticism (known also as Agion Oros – Greek for the "Holy Mountain"). By tradition, it was painted by the apostle and evangelist Luke. In the 9th century, this Icon was in the possession of a widow who lived in Nicaea.
At the end of October 1997, a terrible event took place that shook the whole Orthodox world – Jose Muñoz-Cortes, the guardian of the renowned wonder-working, myrrh-streaming Icon of the Portaitissa, was brutally murdered in Greece by a 20-year-old Romanian man. On the 12th of November, he was buried in the cemetery of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY. The "Icon's House" society in Montreal published the following obituary:
The last interview with the murdered Jose Muñoz-Cortes under the title "One Must Not Become Accustomed to a Miracle" was published in the 27th issue of "The Russian Pastor," a journal published three times a year in San Francisco, CA.
Excerpts from the first interview given by Brother Jose Muñoz-Cortes to "Orthodox Russia" (1983, №s. 17, 18, 20)