Saint Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Detail from the right wing of Triptych of the Annunication – Robert Campin, Netherlands (Bruges), ca 1378-1444 (Oil on Panel)
The Cloisters Collection, 1956 – The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Christ the Lord allowed Himself to be considered the son of a carpenter: come, let us adore Him, Alleluia
–– Invitiatory Antiphon for Saint Joseph the Worker
Pope John Paul II, in his Angelus Message on March 17, 2002, stressed that Saint Joseph is a model of fatherhood in the following excerpts:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The day after tomorrow, March 19, we will celebrate the solemnity of Saint Joseph, spouse of the Virgin Mary and patron of the universal Church. The extreme discretion with which Joseph carried out the role entrusted to him by God highlights his faith even more, which consisted in always listening to the Lord, seeking to understand his will and to obey it with his whole heart and strength. This is why the Gospel describes him as a “just” man (Mt 1,19). In fact, the just man is the person who prays, lives by faith, and seeks to do good in every concrete circumstance of life.
Saint Joseph and fathers
Faith nourished by prayer: this is the most precious treasure that Saint Joseph transmits to us. Generations of fathers have followed in his footsteps who, with the example of a simple and laborious life, imprinted on their children’s souls the inestimable value of faith, without which every other good runs the risk of being in vain. So even now, I am happy to assure all fathers of a special prayer, on the day dedicated to them: I ask God that they be men of a robust interior life, in order to fulfil their mission in the family and society in an exemplary way.
What we know about the life of Saint Joseph is contained in the gospels of Saint Matthew and Saint Luke. He has become known as the “Just man”.
The name foster-father of Our Lord appears in local martyrologies of the ninth and tenth centuries. The first church dedicated in his honor was in 1129 in Bologna. Pope Sixtus IV(1471-84) added the feast of Saint Joseph to the Roman Calendar. Pope Pius IX placed the whole Church under the Patronage of Saint Joseph in 1870.
In 1989, Pope John Paul II reflected deeply on the life and witness of Saint Joseph in Redemptoris Custos “Guardian of the Redeemer” (q.v).
As the Bible tells us, Saint Joseph was descended from the royal house of David. A village carpenter of Nazareth, he was chosen among all men to be the husband and protector of the Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ. To his loving care was entrusted the childhood and youth of the Redeemer of the world. He reveals to us the perfect model of Christianity through his purity of heart, patience, and fortitude.
Poor in worldly possessions, he was rich in grace. Devotion to Saint Joseph, was fervent in the East from the early ages, and has spread and increased. Today, Catholics of all nations honour him.
There are many stories about the miraculous intervention of Saint Joseph. One is a medieval account of how a famine in Sicily was ended after a Novena to Saint Joseph. A more recent story is of the mysterious “itinerant carpenter” who volunteered to build an architecturally unique spiral staircase in a convent chapel in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is as sound today as when it was first built, and has never needed repair.
According to ancient tradition, Saint Joseph watches over and protects the Church. He is considered the model of perfect Christian life and the patron of a happy death. His patronage extends over the Mystical Body of Christ, over the Christian family and schools, carpenters, fathers, laborers, and all individuals who appeal to his charity and intercession, especially in the hour of death. Joseph, when dying, received the loving ministry of his foster Son, Jesus, and his spouse, the Blessed Virgin Mary, so it is believed that his intercession may well obtain the mercy of God and the grace of a peaceful and holy death.
His feast is celebrated on March 19, and a special memorial to Saint Joseph the Worker is observed on May 1.