The Monk Joseph Volotsky (in the world John Sanin) was born in the family of a patrimonial, the owner of the village of the Nickname of the Volokolamsk Principality. The exact date of the monk's birth has not been established, but most sources indicate 1439/1440 years. Joseph's great—grandfather - Sanya (founder of the surname) he was originally from Lithuania. There is almost no news about the parents of St. Joseph, John and Mary, except for information that they died in monasticism. Besides the Monk Joseph, they had three other sons: Vassian, Akaki and Eleazar. Vassian and Akaky took monastic vows. Subsequently, Vassian became Archbishop of Rostov.
At the age of seven, the boy John was sent to the training of the elder of the Volokolamsk Holy Cross Monastery Arseny. In two years he studied the Holy Scriptures and became a reader in the monastery church. At the age of twenty, John visited the Tver Savvin Monastery, where he met the spiritual mentor Varsonofy, and "wisely following the advice and blessing of the visionary and holy elder Varsonofy, he came to the monastery of the Monk Paphnutius and begged him to be a friend in obedience" (Kontakion 4).
In the Borovsky monastery, the Monk Paphnutius tonsured a young man into monasticism with the name Joseph. The Monk Joseph spent eighteen years under the guidance of the holy ascetic. After the repose of his teacher, he was appointed abbot of the Borovsky monastery, which he managed for about two years. In this monastery, he introduced a cenobitic charter, which caused the discontent of some monks. The Monk Joseph was forced to leave the monastery and went on a pilgrimage to Russian shrines. So he ended up in the Kirillo-Belozersky monastery. Here he was even more strengthened in his desire to create a new monastic hostel. From the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery, he retired to the Volokolamsk limits, where in 1479, at the confluence of the Struga and Sister rivers in the forest, he founded the monastery of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In his monastery, the Monk Joseph introduced the strictest dormitory and drew up his own charter for him, a significant part of which is taken from the Charter of the Rev. Neil Sorsky. The Monk Joseph brought up a whole school of ascetic monks. Many of the tonsured monks of the Iosifo-Volokolamsk Monastery were archpastors and occupied the most important chairs of the Russian Church: Metropolitans of Moscow and All Russia Daniel (+ 1539) and St. Macarius (+ 1563), Archbishop Vassian of Rostov (+ 1515), Bishops Simeon of Suzdal (+ 1515), Dositheus of Krutitsky (+ 1544), Savva Krutitsky, according to nicknamed Black, Akaky Tverskoy, Vassian Kolomensky, Kazan Saints Guriy (+ 1563) and Herman (+ 1567), St. Varsonofy, Bishop of Tver (+ 1576).
At the church Councils of 1490 and 1504, the Monk Joseph denounced the heresy of the Jews that had arisen in Novgorod. He resolutely sought the condemnation of persistent apostates. In addition to his main work "The Enlightener", directed against this heresy, the saint also wrote 24 epistles to various persons, a brief and lengthy edition of the monastic "Charter".
The Monk Joseph passed away on September 9, 1515 and was buried near the altar of the Assumption Church of his monastery. By the Council of 1578, the Monk Joseph was ranked by the Church as a locally venerated saint, and in 1591 as an all—Russian saint.