The life of Saint Joseph is known to us only from a few brief notes in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. The apocryphal writings that relate several sometimes unworthy details are legendary. Joseph was descended from the lineage of King David: “Joseph, son of David,” as the angel who encouraged him to accept the unusual situation of his betrothed Mary called him.
Joseph was born the son of Jacob, a descendant of King David (the tribe of Benjamin), and was a carpenter by trade (Matthew 13:55), a trade Jesus would later learn from him (Mark 6:3). By the time he became engaged to Mary, he was already of a respectable age. The Protoevangelium of James tells of how he was chosen as the betrothed of the Virgin Mary, telling how, as a testimony to his honesty and righteousness, he is the only one of the widowers of Israel whose staff was flourishing, showing him worthy of this betrothal.
The most significant event in the life of this “righteous” man is his marriage to Mary, which took place in his youth or even in adulthood. Popular tradition shows Joseph in competition with other young men who asked for Mary’s hand in marriage. The choice fell to him because the stick he carried miraculously blossomed while the sticks of the others remained dry. This cute legend also has a mystical significance: from the withered stalk of the Old Testament, under the rays of the sun of redemption, the new life of grace blossoms.
Who was Joseph?
Joseph also shows goodness and righteousness in his attitude toward the Virgin Mary’s pregnancy. Not only does he not make a legal denunciation, which would have resulted in Mary’s death according to the Law of Moses (Deuteronomy 22:23-24). But he also thinks of not making it known that she was pregnant by secretly running away. In this way, he wants to avoid disgracing her, for in such cases, the woman, even if she were not reported, would have her reputation tarnished in the eyes of men (Matthew 1:18-19).
Joseph was descended from the lineage of King David: “Joseph, son of David.” As the angel who encouraged him to accept the unusual situation of his fiancée, Christine Mary called him. The most significant event in the life of this “righteous” man is his marriage to Mary. A wedding that took place in his youth or even adulthood.
Joseph leaves with Mary from Nazareth (province of Galilee) to Beetlem (province of Judea) for the population census ordered by Emperor Octavian Augustus because he was of the lineage of David (Luke 2:4). Here, Mary gives birth to her child, the Lord Jesus Christ. According to the Gospel of St. Luke, St. Joseph then accompanies the Mother of God and the Child to Jerusalem to be circumcised according to the Law of Moses – they return annually to Jerusalem on the Jewish Feast of Passover (Luke 2, 22-40).
Read more: Meaning and significance of Ascension.
What is Saint Joseph the patron saint of?
The life of St Joseph is known to us only from a few brief notes in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. The apocryphal writings that relate several sometimes unworthy details are legendary.
St Joseph is the patron saint and protector of young females. The Church celebrates St. Joseph, the “betrothed” of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Sunday after the Nativity, together with Emperor David, as a sign of honor because he (Joseph) was worthy to take care of Jesus’ prostration and guard the Blessed Virgin Mary during his lifetime.
Popular tradition shows Joseph competing with other young men asking for Mary’s hand in marriage. The choice fell to him because the stick he carried miraculously blossomed while the sticks of the others remained dry. This cute legend also has a mystical significance: from the withered stalk of the Old Testament, under the rays of the sun of redemption, the new life of grace blossoms.
Read more: Who guards the gates of Heaven?
Why is St. Joseph so special?
The data given in the Holy Gospels concerning the Right Joseph are few, but as much as they are, they allow us to intuit the greatness of this man, called by God to collaborate so directly in the mystery of our salvation. They tell us that Joseph was a descendant of King David and lived in a Galilee village called Nazareth.
St Joseph was considered so special because he was the fiancé of the Virgin Mary who gave birth to Jesus and was a carpenter by trade. He was given to the Blessed Virgin as a fiancé to protect her honor from slander and to be at the same time a guardian or legal father of the Child, whom the Virgin was to give birth to, according to the news received from the angel Gabriel (Luke 1, 26-35).
According to Church Tradition, after she was taken to the Temple and when she reached the age of marriage, Mary was entrusted to the care of a righteous man (her parents had passed away).
What symbolizes Saint Joseph?
The Gospel of Matthew tells us that he wanted to leave her secretly. We should note that Joseph is called a “righteous” man. Naturally, we associate righteousness with law enforcement. But Joseph does not seek to enforce the law.
Saint Joseph symbolizes righteousness. Righteousness is seen in the disposition to obey God and the organization of priorities. God communicates with Joseph through dreams at least four times. He calls Joseph to take Mary into his home (Matthew 1:20-24), to flee to Egypt with the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:13-14), to return from Egypt (2:19-21), and to go to the parts of Galilee and live there (2:22-23).
The Annunciation took place only between the Archangel Gabriel and the Virgin Mary. According to the Gospels, her cousin Elizabeth was the only one who knew she was pregnant (also by revelation). Joseph would have been astonished by this news when he arrived home.
Read more: Why is Abraham important to Christianity?
Key Verse related to St. Joseph
“What God wants above all is our will which we received as a gift from God in the creation and possess as though our own. When a man trains himself to acts of virtue, it is with the help of grace from God, from whom all good things come, that he does this. The will is what man has as his unique possession.”
How old was Joseph when he and Mary married?
According to the Proto-Evangelium of James, Joseph the righteous was at work in another town during the summer when the Mother of God learned from the Archangel Gabriel that she would give birth to the Saviour Jesus Christ. In the autumn, Joseph returned home to find his fiancée pregnant.
According to the gospels, Joseph was 90 years old when he married Mary, a virgin. We know from the iconographic tradition of the Church that Joseph struggled with doubt. In the icon of the Nativity of the Lord, usually in the lower corner, we can see Joseph in thought, talking to a man who appears to be a shepherd. That man represented though
Even though, from all appearances, Joseph considers himself betrayed, deceived, and demeaned, he does not act on instinct; he is not in a hurry to make a decision demanding revenge; out of wounded male pride, he waits a while; the night proves to a Christine counselor for him too. After some thought, he decides to act so as not to harm Mary.
- In many ways, Joseph is in trouble. Mary was a well-known virgin. But less than a year after Joseph’s rightful guardianship, she finds herself pregnant in his home. Indeed, thoughts and questions assailed Right Joseph.
- St. Luke the Evangelist, expressing the general belief about this fact, says clearly: “Jesus… being, as it was said, the son of Joseph” (Luke 3:23). So he was only “supposed to be” but not his natural son. Besides, the Gospels never say, “Joseph and his son.“.
- When the angel of the Lord tells him to flee to Egypt for fear of Herod, who seeks to kill the Christ Child. And then, when it is time to come out of Egypt, he tells Joseph: “Take the Child and His Mother and flee”; or, at the return: “Take the Child and His Mother and go into the land of Israel. For those who sought the Child’s soul died” (Mark 2:13, 20); but he does not say, “Joseph, take His son and His wife,” as it would have been saying ad been His natural father.
Saint Joseph is celebrated in the Catholic Church on 19 March. He is the patron saint of the Christian family and is recognized as a miracle worker.. On 19 March, the Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic Churches celebrate St Joseph, the betrothed of the Virgin Mary. According to the Gospel of Matthew, St Joseph was righteous and just.
Pope Pius IX named him patron of the Universal Church in 1870. St Joseph is also venerated as the patron saint of the family.
- Reddy, M. L. (1980). Vocation literature for the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Nazareth, Michigan.
- Viaud, P. (1909). Nazareth et ses deux églises de l’Annonciation et de l’atelier de saint Joseph. Comptes rendus des séances de l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 53(11), 791-793.
- Monceaux, P. (1912). RP Viaud. Nazareth et ses deux églises de l’Annonciation et de Saint-Joseph. Journal des Savants, 10(10), 472-473.
- Boff, L. (2009). Saint Joseph: The father of Jesus in a fatherless society. Wipf and Stock Publishers.
- Williams, A. L. (2021). Joseph of Nazareth in Sixteenth-Century New Spain: An Elderly Saint and Popular Devotion. IKON, 14, 325-336.