A na­tive of Si­ci­ly, Jo­seph left that is­land in 830 for a mo­nas­tic life in Thes­sa­lo­ni­ca. From there he went to Con­stan­ti­no­ple (now Is­tan­bul, Tur­key), but left there dur­ing the ico­no­clas­tic per­se­cu­tion, go­ing to Rome.

He was for ma­ny years a slave in Crete, hav­ing been cap­tured by pi­rates. Af­ter re­gain­ing his free­dom, he re­turned to Con­stan­ti­no­ple.

He es­tab­lished a mon­as­te­ry there, in con­nect­ion with the church of St. John Chry­sos­tom, which his el­o­quence filled with in­mates.

He was ban­ished to the Cher­so­nese for de­fend­ing ic­ons, but Em­press The­o­do­ra re­called him. Through the fa­vor of the pa­tri­arch Ig­na­ti­us, he be­came Sceuo­phy­lax (keep­er of the sac­red ves­sels) in the Great Church of Con­stan­ti­no­ple.

Joseph al­so stood high in the fa­vor of Pho­ti­us, the ri­val and suc­cess­or of Ig­na­ti­us, and ac­com­pa­nied Pho­ti­us in­to ban­ish­ment.

Joseph died at an ad­vanced age in 883, and was the most vo­lu­mi­nous of the Greek hymn writ­ers. There are more than two hun­dred ti­tles un­der his acros­tic, Me­naea, and he may have writ­ten as ma­ny as a thou­sand to­tal.

It is oft­en dif­fi­cult to dis­ting­uish his work from Jo­seph of Thes­sa­lo­ni­ca, some­times called Jo­seph of the Stu­di­um.

The Greek church cal­en­dar com­me­mo­rates Jo­seph on Ap­ril 3.