Saint Joseph

Saint Joseph

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Saint Joseph is a figure in the Gospels, the husband of the Virgin Mary and the earthly father of Jesus Christ (in distinction to God the Father
God the Father
God the Father is a gendered title given to God in many monotheistic religions, particularly patriarchal, Abrahamic ones. In Judaism, God is called Father because he is the creator, life-giver, law-giver, and protector...

, his "heavenly father").

The earliest Christian records, the Pauline epistles
Pauline epistles
The Pauline epistles, Epistles of Paul, or Letters of Paul, are the thirteen New Testament books which have the name Paul as the first word, hence claiming authorship by Paul the Apostle. Among these letters are some of the earliest extant Christian documents...

 make no reference to Jesus' father, and nor does the Gospel of Mark
Gospel of Mark
The Gospel According to Mark , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Mark or simply Mark, is the second book of the New Testament. This canonical account of the life of Jesus of Nazareth is one of the three synoptic gospels. It was thought to be an epitome, which accounts for its place as the second...

, the first of the Gospels. The first appearance of Joseph is therefore in the gospels of Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...

 and Luke
Gospel of Luke
The Gospel According to Luke , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Luke or simply Luke, is the third and longest of the four canonical Gospels. This synoptic gospel is an account of the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. It details his story from the events of his birth to his Ascension.The...

, both of which trace Joseph's lineage back to King David. The two lists give differing genealogies: Matthew says that Joseph's father was called Jacob, but Luke says he was the son of Heli
Heli (Bible)
Heli is a Biblical individual mentioned in Luke 3:23 whom many Protestant scholars consider is the father of Mary, mother of Jesus.The Lukan genealogy mentions Joseph, not Mary, but does not have the word "son of" in the Greek text, leading to the suggestion that "son-in-law" of Heli is...

.

Matthew and Luke are also the only Gospels to include the infancy narratives
Nativity of Jesus
The Nativity of Jesus, or simply The Nativity, refers to the accounts of the birth of Jesus in two of the Canonical gospels and in various apocryphal texts....

, and again they differ. In Luke, Joseph lives in Nazareth and travels to Bethlehem in compliance with the requirements of a Roman census. Subsequently, Jesus was born there. In Matthew, Joseph was in Bethlehem, the city of David, where Jesus is born, and then moves to Nazareth with his family after the death of Herod. Matthew is the only Gospel to include the narrative of the Massacre of the Innocents
Massacre of the Innocents
The Massacre of the Innocents is an episode of infanticide by the King of Judea, Herod the Great. According to the Gospel of Matthew Herod orders the execution of all young male children in the village of Bethlehem, so as to avoid the loss of his throne to a newborn King of the Jews whose birth...

 and the Flight into Egypt
Flight into Egypt
The flight into Egypt is a biblical event described in the Gospel of Matthew , in which Joseph fled to Egypt with his wife Mary and infant son Jesus after a visit by Magi because they learn that King Herod intends to kill the infants of that area...

: following the nativity, Joseph stays in Bethlehem for an unspecified period (perhaps two years) until forced by Herod to take refuge in Egypt; on the death of Herod he brings his family back to Israel, and settles in Nazareth. After this point there is no further mention of Joseph by name, although the story of Jesus in the Temple, in Jesus' 12th year, includes a reference to "both his parents". Christian tradition represents Mary as a widow during the adult ministry of her son. The gospels describe Joseph as a "tekton" (τέκτων); traditionally the word has been taken to mean "carpenter
Carpenter
A carpenter is a skilled craftsperson who works with timber to construct, install and maintain buildings, furniture, and other objects. The work, known as carpentry, may involve manual labor and work outdoors....

", though the Greek term evokes an artisan with wood in general, or an artisan in iron or stone. Very little other information on Joseph is given in the Gospels, in which he never speaks.

Joseph is venerated as a saint
Saint
A saint is a holy person. In various religions, saints are people who are believed to have exceptional holiness.In Christian usage, "saint" refers to any believer who is "in Christ", and in whom Christ dwells, whether in heaven or in earth...

 in the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran faiths. In Catholic and other traditions, Joseph is the patron saint
Patron saint
A patron saint is a saint who is regarded as the intercessor and advocate in heaven of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person...

 of workers and has several feast days. He was also declared to be the patron saint and protector of the Catholic Church by Pope Pius IX
Pope Pius IX
Blessed Pope Pius IX , born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, was the longest-reigning elected Pope in the history of the Catholic Church, serving from 16 June 1846 until his death, a period of nearly 32 years. During his pontificate, he convened the First Vatican Council in 1869, which decreed papal...

 in 1870, and is the patron of several countries and regions. With the growth of Mariology
Mariology
Roman Catholic Mariology is theology concerned with the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ as developed by the Catholic Church. Roman Catholic teachings on the subject have been based on the belief that "The Blessed Virgin, because she is the Mother of God, is believed to hold a certain...

, the theological field of Josephology
Josephology
Josephology is the theological study of Saint Joseph, the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Records of devotions to Saint Joseph go back to the year 800 and Doctors of the Church since Saint Thomas Aquinas have written on the subject. With the growth of Mariology, the theological study of Saint...

has also grown and since the 1950s centres for studying it have been formed.

Paul and the canonical Gospels



Joseph in the New Testament


The epistles of Paul, from roughly 51-58 AD, are the oldest Christian writings. These mention Jesus' mother (without naming her), but never refer to his father. The oldest gospel, that of Mark, also does not name Joseph. He first appears in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, both from the decade or so following 70 CE. Luke names Joseph's father as Eli, but Matthew names him as Jacob, in keeping with that gospel's depiction of Jesus as a second Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

. This theme is developed further in the infancy narratives, which, like the genealogies, have the function of establishing Jesus as the promised Messiah, the descendant of David, born in Bethlehem. Like the genealogies the infancy narratives appear only in Matthew and Luke, and take different approaches to reconciling the requirement that the Messiah be born in Bethlehem with the tradition that Jesus came from Nazareth. In Matthew, Joseph, already living in Bethlehem, obeys the direction of an angel to marry Mary and then to flee to Egypt
Flight into Egypt
The flight into Egypt is a biblical event described in the Gospel of Matthew , in which Joseph fled to Egypt with his wife Mary and infant son Jesus after a visit by Magi because they learn that King Herod intends to kill the infants of that area...

 to escape the massacre of the children of Bethlehem
Massacre of the Innocents
The Massacre of the Innocents is an episode of infanticide by the King of Judea, Herod the Great. According to the Gospel of Matthew Herod orders the execution of all young male children in the village of Bethlehem, so as to avoid the loss of his throne to a newborn King of the Jews whose birth...

 planned by Herod the Great
Herod the Great
Herod , also known as Herod the Great , was a Roman client king of Judea. His epithet of "the Great" is widely disputed as he is described as "a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis." He is also known for his colossal building projects in Jerusalem and elsewhere, including his...

, the tyrant who rules Judea. Once Herod has died, the angel tells him not to return to the land of Israel, but to Galilee instead of to Bethlehem, and so Joseph takes his wife and the child to Nazareth and settles there. Thus in Matthew, the infant Jesus, like Moses, is in peril from a cruel king, like Moses he has a (fore)father named Joseph who goes down to Egypt, like the Old Testament Joseph this Joseph has a father named Jacob, and both Josephs receive important dreams foretelling their future. In Luke, Joseph already lives in Nazareth, and Jesus is born in Bethlehem because Joseph and Mary have to travel there to be counted in a census. Luke's account makes no mention of angels and dreams, the Massacre of the Innocents, or of a visit to Egypt.

The last time Joseph appears in person in any Gospel is the story of the Passover
Passover
Passover is a Jewish holiday and festival. It commemorates the story of the Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt...

 visit to the Temple
Finding in the Temple
The Finding in the Temple, also called "Christ among the Doctors" or the Disputation , was an episode in the early life of Jesus depicted in the Gospel of Luke. It is the only event of the later childhood of Jesus mentioned in a gospel.The episode is only described in...

 in Jerusalem when Jesus is 12 years old, found only in Luke. Like the infancy narratives the story is didactic, emphasising Jesus' awareness of his coming mission: here Jesus speaks to his parents (both of them) of "my father," meaning God, but they fail to understand.

None of the Gospels mentions Joseph as present at any event during Jesus' adult ministry. The synoptic Gospels
Synoptic Gospels
The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the Synoptic Gospels because they include many of the same stories, often in the same sequence, and sometimes exactly the same wording. This degree of parallelism in content, narrative arrangement, language, and sentence structures can only be...

, however, share a scene in which the people of Nazareth
Nazareth
Nazareth is the largest city in the North District of Israel. Known as "the Arab capital of Israel," the population is made up predominantly of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel...

, Jesus' hometown, doubt Jesus' status as a prophet because they know his family. In Mark
Gospel of Mark
The Gospel According to Mark , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Mark or simply Mark, is the second book of the New Testament. This canonical account of the life of Jesus of Nazareth is one of the three synoptic gospels. It was thought to be an epitome, which accounts for its place as the second...

, the first Gospel to be written (about 70 AD), they call Jesus "Mary's son" instead of naming his father. In the next Gospel, Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...

, the townspeople call Jesus "the carpenter's son," again without naming his father, and again he has a brother named Joseph; only in Luke is he named "the son of Joseph," and Luke makes no mention of any brothers. In Luke the tone is positive, whereas in Mark and Matthew it is disparaging. This incident does not appear at all in John, but in a parallel story the disbelieving Jews refer to "Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know".

Joseph is not mentioned as being present at the Wedding at Cana at the beginning of Jesus' mission, nor at the Passion at the end. If he had been present at the Crucifixion
Crucifixion of Jesus
The crucifixion of Jesus and his ensuing death is an event that occurred during the 1st century AD. Jesus, who Christians believe is the Son of God as well as the Messiah, was arrested, tried, and sentenced by Pontius Pilate to be scourged, and finally executed on a cross...

, he would under Jewish custom have been expected to take charge of Jesus' body, but this role is instead performed by Joseph of Arimathea
Joseph of Arimathea
Joseph of Arimathea was, according to the Gospels, the man who donated his own prepared tomb for the burial of Jesus after Jesus' Crucifixion. He is mentioned in all four Gospels.-Gospel references:...

. Nor would Jesus have entrusted his mother to John's care had her husband been alive.

Gospel harmony


A sample Gospel harmony
Gospel harmony
A Gospel harmony is an attempt to merge or harmonize the canonical gospels of the Four Evangelists into a single gospel account, the earliest known example being the Diatesseron by Tatian in the 2nd century. A gospel harmony may also establish a chronology for the events of the life of Jesus...

 of the episodes of the life of Saint Joseph in the canonical Gospels, in summary form of harmonies for the four gospels. See the gallery below for artistic depictions of some of these events.

Number Event Matthew Mark Luke John
1 Joseph lived in Nazareth
2 Genealogy of Joseph
3 Joseph Betrothed to Mary
4 Angel visits Joseph
St. Joseph's dream
St. Joseph's dream refers to Biblical episodes in which Saint Joseph is visited by Angel and receives specific instructions. In the New Testament there are 3 specific episodes in which St. Joseph has such dreams....

 (1st dream)
5 Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem
6 Birth of Jesus
7 Temple presentation
8 Angel tells Joseph
St. Joseph's dream
St. Joseph's dream refers to Biblical episodes in which Saint Joseph is visited by Angel and receives specific instructions. In the New Testament there are 3 specific episodes in which St. Joseph has such dreams....

 to flee (2nd dream)
9 Flight into Egypt
Flight into Egypt
The flight into Egypt is a biblical event described in the Gospel of Matthew , in which Joseph fled to Egypt with his wife Mary and infant son Jesus after a visit by Magi because they learn that King Herod intends to kill the infants of that area...

10 Angel tells Joseph
St. Joseph's dream
St. Joseph's dream refers to Biblical episodes in which Saint Joseph is visited by Angel and receives specific instructions. In the New Testament there are 3 specific episodes in which St. Joseph has such dreams....

 to return to Nazareth (3rd dream)
11 Joseph and family settle in Nazareth
Return of young Jesus to Nazareth
The return of young Jesus to Nazareth is an episode in the life of Jesus that appears in the Gospel of Luke. It relates the return to Nazareth by St. Joseph and Mary after the birth of Jesus....

12 Finding Jesus in the Temple
13 Holy Family
Holy Family
The Holy Family consists of the Child Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and Saint Joseph.The Feast of the Holy Family is a liturgical celebration in the Roman Catholic Church in honor of Jesus of Nazareth, his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and his foster father, Saint Joseph, as a family...


Professional life



Jesus is identified in the Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...

  as the son of a τέκτων (tekton) and the Gospel of Mark
Gospel of Mark
The Gospel According to Mark , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Mark or simply Mark, is the second book of the New Testament. This canonical account of the life of Jesus of Nazareth is one of the three synoptic gospels. It was thought to be an epitome, which accounts for its place as the second...

  states that Jesus was a tekton himself. Tekton has been traditionally translated into English as "carpenter", but is a rather general word (from the same root that gives us "technical" and "technology") that could cover makers of objects in various materials, even builders. But the specific association with woodworking is a constant in Early Christian tradition; Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr, also known as just Saint Justin , was an early Christian apologist. Most of his works are lost, but two apologies and a dialogue survive. He is considered a saint by the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church....

 (d. ca. 165) wrote that Jesus made yoke
Yoke
A yoke is a wooden beam, normally used between a pair of oxen or other animals to enable them to pull together on a load when working in pairs, as oxen usually do; some yokes are fitted to individual animals. There are several types of yoke, used in different cultures, and for different types of oxen...

s and plough
Plough
The plough or plow is a tool used in farming for initial cultivation of soil in preparation for sowing seed or planting. It has been a basic instrument for most of recorded history, and represents one of the major advances in agriculture...

s, and there are similar early references.

John Dominic Crossan
John Dominic Crossan
John Dominic Crossan is an Irish-American religious scholar and former Catholic priest known for co-founding the Jesus Seminar. Crossan is a major figure in the fields of biblical archaeology, anthropology and New Testament textual and higher criticism. He is also a lecturer who has appeared in...

 puts tekton into a historical context more resembling an itinerant worker than an established artisan, emphasizing his marginality in a population in which a peasant who owns land could become quite prosperous. Other scholars have argued that tekton could equally mean a highly-skilled craftsman in wood or the more prestigious metal, perhaps running a workshop with several employees, and noted sources recording the shortage of skilled artisans at the time. Geza Vermes
Geza Vermes
Géza Vermes or Vermès is a British scholar of Jewish Hungarian origin and writer on religious history, particularly Jewish and Christian. He is a noted authority on the Dead Sea Scrolls and other ancient works in Aramaic, and on the life and religion of Jesus...

 has stated that the terms 'carpenter' and 'son of a carpenter' are used in the Jewish Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

 to signify a very learned man, and he suggests that a description of Joseph as 'naggar' (a carpenter) could indicate that he was considered wise and highly literate in the Torah.

At the time of Joseph, Nazareth was an obscure village in Galilee
Galilee
Galilee , is a large region in northern Israel which overlaps with much of the administrative North District of the country. Traditionally divided into Upper Galilee , Lower Galilee , and Western Galilee , extending from Dan to the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, along Mount Lebanon to the...

, about 65 km from the Holy City of Jerusalem, which is barely mentioned in surviving non-Christian texts and documents. Archaeology
Archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

 over most of the site is made impossible by subsequent building, but from what has been excavated and tombs in the area around the village, it is estimated that the population was at most about 400. It was, however, only about 6 kilometres from the city of Tzippori
Tzippori
Tzippori , also known as Sepphoris, Dioceserea and Saffuriya is located in the central Galilee region, north-northwest of Nazareth, in modern-day Israel...

 (ancient "Sepphoris"), which was destroyed by the Romans in 4BC, and thereafter was expensively rebuilt. Analysis of the landscape and other evidence suggest that in Joseph's lifetime Nazareth was "oriented towards" the nearby city, which had an overwhelmingly Jewish population although with many signs of Hellenization
Hellenization
Hellenization is a term used to describe the spread of ancient Greek culture, and, to a lesser extent, language. It is mainly used to describe the spread of Hellenistic civilization during the Hellenistic period following the campaigns of Alexander the Great of Macedon...

, and historians have speculated that Joseph and later Jesus too might have traveled daily to work on the rebuilding. Specifically the large theatre in the city has been suggested, although this has aroused much controversy over dating and other issues. Other scholars see Joseph and Jesus as the general village craftsmen, working in wood, stone and metal on a wide variety of jobs.

Modern appraisal


The name of Joseph is found almost exclusively in the genealogies and the infancy narratives. The variances between the genealogies given in Matthew and Luke are explained on the basis that Matthew's genealogy traces his physical descent through St. Joseph; while Luke's genealogy traces his legal descent through Mary.

Modern positions on the question of the relationship between Joseph and the Virgin Mary vary. The Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

, which names Joseph's first wife as Salome, holds that Joseph was a widower and merely betrothed, but never married, to Mary, and that references to Jesus' "brothers" are to children of Joseph and Salome. The position of the Catholic Church, derived from the writings of Saint Jerome
Saint Jerome
Saint Jerome is a Christian church father, best known for translating the Bible into Latin.Saint Jerome may also refer to:*Jerome of Pavia , Bishop of Pavia...

, is that Joseph was the husband of Mary, but that references to Jesus' "brothers" should be understood to mean cousins or step-brothers. In both cases, the church doctrine of the Perpetual Virginity means that Joseph and Mary never had sexual relations. The Protestant churches, following the tenet of Virgin Birth but not that of Perpetual Virginity, hold no strong views on the subject.

Later apocryphal writings


The canonical gospels created a problem: they stated clearly that Mary was a virgin when she conceived Jesus, and that Joseph was not his father; yet Joseph's paternity was essential to establish Jesus' Davidic descent, and he and Mary were so much husband and wife that only divorce could dissolve their union (Matthew 1:19). The theological situation was complicated by the gospel references to Jesus' "brothers and sisters" (repeated in Paul, where James is called the "brother of Christ"), and by the fact that he was described unambiguously by John and Mark as "Joseph's son" and "the carpenter's son." From the 2nd century to the 5th writers tried to explain how Jesus could be simultaneously the "son of God" as well as the "son of Joseph".

The first to offer a solution was the apocryphal Protoevangelium of James, written about 150 AD. The original gospels never refer to Joseph's age, but James presents him as an old man chosen by lot (i.e., by God) to watch over the Virgin. Jesus' brothers are presented as Joseph's children by an earlier marriage, and his years and righteousness explain why he has not yet had sex with his wife: "I received her by lot as my wife, and she is not yet my wife, but she has conceived by the Holy Spirit."

The Protoevangelium was extremely popular, but it leaves open the possibility that Joseph might have had relations with Mary after the birth of Jesus ("she is not yet my wife..."). A few centuries later the developing doctrine that Mary was a virgin not only at the time of the conception and birth of Christ, but throughout her life, meant that this possibility had to be excluded. The apocryphal History of Joseph the Carpenter
History of Joseph the Carpenter
The History of Joseph the Carpenter is one of the texts within the New Testament apocrypha concerned with period of Jesus' life before he was 12....

, written in the 5th century and framed as a biography of Joseph dictated by Jesus, describes how Joseph, aged 90 (the Protoevangelium had not given Joseph a specific age), a widower with four sons and two daughters, is given charge of the twelve year old Mary, who then lives in his household raising his youngest son James the Less (the supposed author of the Protoevengelium) until she is ready to be married at age 14½. Joseph's death at the age of 111, attended by angels and asserting the perpetual virginity of Mary
Perpetual virginity of Mary
The doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary, expresses the Virgin Mary's "real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to Jesus the Son of God made Man"...

, takes up approximately half the story.

Sainthood


Together with the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Child Jesus
Child Jesus
The Child Jesus represents Jesus from his Nativity to age 12. At 13 he was considered to be adult, in accordance with the Jewish custom of his time, and that of most Christian cultures until recent centuries.The Child Jesus is frequently depicted in art, from around the third or fourth century...

 Joseph is one of the three members of the Holy Family
Holy Family
The Holy Family consists of the Child Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and Saint Joseph.The Feast of the Holy Family is a liturgical celebration in the Roman Catholic Church in honor of Jesus of Nazareth, his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and his foster father, Saint Joseph, as a family...

; since he only appears in the birth narratives of the Gospels, Jesus is depicted as a child when with him. The formal veneration of the Holy Family began in the 17th century by Mgr François de Laval
François de Laval
This article is in part a sermon and generally comes close to hagiography.Blessed François-Xavier de Montmorency-Laval was the first Roman Catholic bishop of Quebec and was one of the most influential men of his day. He was appointed when he was 36 years old by Pope Alexander VII. He was a member...

.

Pope Pius IX
Pope Pius IX
Blessed Pope Pius IX , born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, was the longest-reigning elected Pope in the history of the Catholic Church, serving from 16 June 1846 until his death, a period of nearly 32 years. During his pontificate, he convened the First Vatican Council in 1869, which decreed papal...

 proclaimed Saint Joseph the patron of the Universal Church in 1870, the unofficial patron against doubt and hesitation, as well as the patron saint of fighting communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

, and of a happy death. Having died in the "arms of Jesus and Mary" according to Catholic tradition, he is considered the model of the pious believer who receives grace at the moment of death, and prays especially for families, fathers, expectant mothers (pregnant women), travelers, immigrants, house sellers and buyers, craftsmen, engineer
Engineer
An engineer is a professional practitioner of engineering, concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics and ingenuity to develop solutions for technical problems. Engineers design materials, structures, machines and systems while considering the limitations imposed by practicality,...

s, and working people in general.

The earliest records of a formal devotional following for Saint Joseph date to the year 800 and references to him as nutritor Domini (educator/guardian of the Lord) began to appear in the 9th century, and continued growing to the 14th century. Saint Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas, O.P. , also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, was an Italian Dominican priest of the Catholic Church, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis, or Doctor Universalis...

 discussed the necessity of the presence of Saint Joseph in the plan of the Incarnation for if Mary had not been married, the Jews would have stoned her and that in his youth Jesus needed the care and protection of a human father.

In the 15th century major steps were taken by Saint Bernardine of Siena, Pierre d'Ailly and Jean Gerson
Jean Gerson
Jean Charlier de Gerson , French scholar, educator, reformer, and poet, Chancellor of the University of Paris, a guiding light of the conciliar movement and one of the most prominent theologians at the Council of Constance, was born at the village of Gerson, in the bishopric of Reims in...

. Gerson wrote Consideration sur Saint Joseph and preached sermons on Saint Joseph at the Council of Constance
Council of Constance
The Council of Constance is the 15th ecumenical council recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, held from 1414 to 1418. The council ended the Three-Popes Controversy, by deposing or accepting the resignation of the remaining Papal claimants and electing Pope Martin V.The Council also condemned and...

. In 1889 Pope Leo XIII
Pope Leo XIII
Pope Leo XIII , born Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci to an Italian comital family, was the 256th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, reigning from 1878 to 1903...

 issued the encyclical Quamquam Pluries
Quamquam Pluries
Quamquam Pluries is an encyclical on Saint Joseph by Pope Leo XIII. It was issued on August 15, 1889 in Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome.As a background, the pope stated the challenges facing the Church, such as the growing depravity of morals in the young generation:Now, Venerable Brethren, you know...

in which he urged Catholics to pray to Saint Joseph, as the patron of the Church in view of the challenges facing the Church.

Josephology
Josephology
Josephology is the theological study of Saint Joseph, the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Records of devotions to Saint Joseph go back to the year 800 and Doctors of the Church since Saint Thomas Aquinas have written on the subject. With the growth of Mariology, the theological study of Saint...

, the study of the theology of Saint Joseph, is one of the most recent theological disciplines. In 1989, on the occasion of the centenary of Quamquam Pluries
Quamquam Pluries
Quamquam Pluries is an encyclical on Saint Joseph by Pope Leo XIII. It was issued on August 15, 1889 in Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome.As a background, the pope stated the challenges facing the Church, such as the growing depravity of morals in the young generation:Now, Venerable Brethren, you know...

 Pope John Paul II issued Redemptoris Custos
Redemptoris Custos
Redemptoris Custos is the title of an Apostolic exhortation by Pope John Paul II on Saint Joseph. It was delivered on August 15, 1989 in Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome on the occasion of the centenary of Pope Leo XIII's Encyclical Epistle Quamquam Pluries.This exhortation is part of the...

, i.e. Guardian of the Redeemer which presented Saint Joseph's role in the plan of redemption, as part of the "redemption documents" issued by John Paul II such as Redemptoris Mater
Redemptoris Mater
Redemptoris Mater is the name for certain Roman Catholic seminaries which operate under the auspices of the Neocatechumenal Way and claim as their mission the formation of priests for the "New Evangelization". These seminaries are distributed worldwide, with nearly 1,500 seminarians currently in...

 to which it refers.

Feast days


March 19, Saint Joseph's Day, has been the principal feast day of Saint Joseph in Western Christianity
Western Christianity
Western Christianity is a term used to include the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and groups historically derivative thereof, including the churches of the Anglican and Protestant traditions, which share common attributes that can be traced back to their medieval heritage...

, since the tenth century, and is celebrated by Catholics, Anglicans, many Lutherans and other denominations. In Eastern Orthodoxy, the feast day of Saint Joseph is celebrated on the First Sunday after the Nativity of Christ.

In 1870, Pope Pius IX
Pope Pius IX
Blessed Pope Pius IX , born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, was the longest-reigning elected Pope in the history of the Catholic Church, serving from 16 June 1846 until his death, a period of nearly 32 years. During his pontificate, he convened the First Vatican Council in 1869, which decreed papal...

 declared Joseph patron of the universal Church and instituted another feast, with an octave, to be held in his honour on Wednesday in the second week after Easter. This was abolished by Pope Pius XII
Pope Pius XII
The Venerable Pope Pius XII , born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli , reigned as Pope, head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City State, from 2 March 1939 until his death in 1958....

, when in 1955 he established the Feast of "St. Joseph the Worker", to be celebrated on 1 May. This date counteracts May Day
May Day
May Day on May 1 is an ancient northern hemisphere spring festival and usually a public holiday; it is also a traditional spring holiday in many cultures....

, a union, workers and socialists holiday and reflects Joseph's status as what many Catholics and other Christians consider the "patron of workers" and "model of workers." Catholic and other Christian teachings and stories about or relating to Joseph and the Holy Family frequently stress his patience, persistence, and hard work as admirable qualities which believers should adopt.

Pope John XXIII
Pope John XXIII
-Papal election:Following the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958, Roncalli was elected Pope, to his great surprise. He had even arrived in the Vatican with a return train ticket to Venice. Many had considered Giovanni Battista Montini, Archbishop of Milan, a possible candidate, but, although archbishop...

 added the name of Joseph to the Canon of the Mass
Canon of the Mass
Canon of the Mass is the name given in the Roman Missal, from the first typical edition of Pope Pius V in 1570 to that of Pope John XXIII in 1962, to the part of the Mass of the Roman Rite that begins after the Sanctus with the words Te igitur...

. The 19 March feast is a solemnity and is transferred to another date if impeded (for instance, if it falls on a Sunday within Lent
Lent
In the Christian tradition, Lent is the period of the liturgical year from Ash Wednesday to Easter. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer – through prayer, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial – for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and...

). The 1 May celebration is an optional memorial, and so is omitted if impeded. (However, the 1 May celebration is 1st class in the Tridentine calendar, so in it St. Joseph the Worker was celebrated on 2 May in 2008 because 1 May was Ascension Thursday.)

Places, churches and Institutions



Many cities, towns, and locations are named after Saint Joseph. According to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is an agency of the federal government of the United States with the primary mission of collecting, analyzing and distributing geospatial intelligence in support of national security. NGA was formerly known as the National Imagery and Mapping Agency ...

, the Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

 form, San Jose, is the most common place name in the world. Probably the most-recognized San Joses are San José, Costa Rica
San José, Costa Rica
San José is the capital and largest city of Costa Rica. Located in the Central Valley, San José is the seat of national government, the focal point of political and economic activity, and the major transportation hub of this Central American nation.Founded in 1738 by order of Cabildo de León, San...

, and San Jose, California
San Jose, California
San Jose is the third-largest city in California, the tenth-largest in the U.S., and the county seat of Santa Clara County which is located at the southern end of San Francisco Bay...

, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, given their name by Spanish colonists
Spanish colonization of the Americas
Colonial expansion under the Spanish Empire was initiated by the Spanish conquistadores and developed by the Monarchy of Spain through its administrators and missionaries. The motivations for colonial expansion were trade and the spread of the Christian faith through indigenous conversions...

. Joseph is the patron saint of the New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

; of the countries China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

, Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

, Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, Croatia
Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

, Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

, Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

; of the regions Carinthia
Carinthia (state)
Carinthia is the southernmost Austrian state or Land. Situated within the Eastern Alps it is chiefly noted for its mountains and lakes.The main language is German. Its regional dialects belong to the Southern Austro-Bavarian group...

, Styria
Styria (state)
Styria is a state or Bundesland, located in the southeast of Austria. In area it is the second largest of the nine Austrian federated states, covering 16,401 km². It borders Slovenia as well as the other Austrian states of Upper Austria, Lower Austria, Salzburg, Burgenland, and Carinthia. ...

, Tyrol, Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

; and of several main cities and dioceses.

Many churches, monasteries and other institutions are dedicated to Saint Joseph. Saint Joseph's Oratory
Saint Joseph's Oratory
Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal, , is a Roman Catholic minor basilica and national shrine on the west slope of Mount Royal in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.-History:...

 is the largest church in Canada, with the largest dome of its kind in the world after that of Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

. Elsewhere in the world churches named after the saint may be known as those of San Giuseppe, e.g. San Giuseppe dei Teatini
San Giuseppe dei Teatini
San Giuseppe dei Teatini is a church in the Sicilian city of Palermo. It is located near the Quattro Canti, and is considered one of the most outstanding examples of the Sicilian Baroque in Palermo....

, San José, e.g. Metropolitan Cathedral of San José
Metropolitan Cathedral of San José
The Metropolitan Cathedral of San José is a cathedral in San José, Costa Rica, located on Calle Central and Avenues 2 and 4. The original cathedral was built in 1802 but was destroyed by an earthquake...

 or São José, e.g. in Porto Alegre
Porto Alegre
Porto Alegre is the tenth most populous municipality in Brazil, with 1,409,939 inhabitants, and the centre of Brazil's fourth largest metropolitan area . It is also the capital city of the southernmost Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. The city is the southernmost capital city of a Brazilian...

, Brazil.

The Sisters of St. Joseph
Sisters of St. Joseph
The title Sisters of St. Joseph applies to several Roman Catholic religious congregations of women. The largest and oldest of these was founded in Le Puy-en-Velay, France...

 were founded as an order in 1650 and have about 14,000 members worldwide. In 1871, the Josephite Fathers
Josephite Fathers
The Josephite Fathers and Brothers or, more properly, Saint Joseph's Society of the Sacred Heart, Inc. are a society of Catholic priests and brothers, based in the United States. It was formed in 1871 by a group of priests from the English Foreign Mission Society of Saint Joseph, also known as...

 of the Roman Catholic Church were created under the patronage of Joseph, intending to work with the poor. The first Josephites in America re-devoted their part of the Order to ministry within the newly-emancipated African American community. The Oblates of St. Joseph
Oblates of St. Joseph
The Oblates of St. Joseph is a Catholic religious order founded in 1878 by St. Joseph Marello. In 1999 their Shrine of Saint Joseph the Guardian of the Redeemer was named after the Apostolic exhortation Redemptoris Custos.-External links:* *...

 were founded in 1878 by St. Joseph Marello
Joseph Marello
Saint Joseph Marello was the son of Vincenzo and Anna Maria Marello. Joseph's mother died when he was very young, and the family moved from Turin to San Martino Alfieri, Italy....

. In 1999 their Shrine of Saint Joseph the Guardian of the Redeemer was named after the Apostolic exhortation Redemptoris Custos
Redemptoris Custos
Redemptoris Custos is the title of an Apostolic exhortation by Pope John Paul II on Saint Joseph. It was delivered on August 15, 1989 in Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome on the occasion of the centenary of Pope Leo XIII's Encyclical Epistle Quamquam Pluries.This exhortation is part of the...

.

Prayers and devotions



In the Eastern Orthodox Church, during the feast day of Saint Joseph the following hymn is chanted:
Verily, Joseph the betrothed, saw clearly in his old age that the foresayings of the Prophets had
been fulfilled openly; for he was given an odd earnest,
receiving inspiration from the angels,
who cried, Glory to God; for he hath bestowed peace on earth.


In the Catholic tradition, just as there are prayers for the Seven Joys of Mary and Seven Sorrows of Mary, so there are also prayers for the seven joys and seven sorrows of Saint Joseph; these include prayers for daily protection, vocation, happy marriage, happy death, and hopeless cases; specific prayers, novena
Novena
In the Catholic Church, a novena is a devotion consisting of a prayer repeated on nine successive days, asking to obtain special graces. The prayers may come from prayer books, or consist of the recitation of the Rosary , or of short prayers through the day...

s and devotions include the Prayer to Saint Joseph
Prayer to Saint Joseph
The following Prayers to Saint Joseph are Roman Catholic prayers to Saint Joseph.-Litany of St. Joseph:The litany of St. Joseph, one of the more recent Catholic prayers, was sanctioned by Pope Pius X in 1909.V/ Lord, have mercy.R/ Lord, have mercy....

 and the Novena to Saint Joseph
Novena to Saint Joseph
The Novena to Saint Joseph is a Roman Catholic Novena prayed to Saint Joseph.Like all other Novenas it is prayed on nine consecutive days with a specific intention...

. St. Francis de Sales included Saint Joseph along with Virgin Mary as saints to be invoked during prayers in his Introduction to the Devout Life
Introduction to the Devout Life
Introduction to the Devout Life was written by St. Francis de Sales, the first edition being published in 1609. The final edition was published in 1619, prior to the death of Francis in 1622. It enjoyed wide popularity, and was well-received in both Protestant and Catholic circles, evidenced by...

, Saint Teresa of Avila attributed her recovery of health to Saint Joseph and recommended him as an advocate, and Saint Therese of Lisieux stated that for a period of time, every day she prayed to "Saint Joseph, Father and Protector of Virgins..." and felt safe and protected from danger as a result, and Pius X composed a prayer to Saint Joseph which begins:
Glorious St. Joseph, pattern of all who are devoted to toil,
obtain for me the grace to toil, in the spirit of penance,
in order to thereby atone for my many sins...


There is a belief that planting a statue of St. Joseph on a house will help sell the house. This belief is held by some theists as well as atheists, but traditional Christian teachings view it as superstition and not a devotion.

In art



Up to about the 17th century Joseph tends to be depicted as a man advanced in years, with grey hair, often balding, occasionally frail and with arthritic fingers
Arthritis
Arthritis is a form of joint disorder that involves inflammation of one or more joints....

 and a sharp nose, a comparatively marginal figure alongside Mary and Jesus if not entirely in the background, passive other than when leading them on their flight to Egypt. Joseph is shown mostly with a beard, not only in keeping with Jewish custom, but also because – although the Gospel accounts do not give his age – later literature tends to present him as an old man at the time of his wedding to Mary. This depiction arose to allay concerns about both the celibacy
Celibacy
Celibacy is a personal commitment to avoiding sexual relations, in particular a vow from marriage. Typically celibacy involves avoiding all romantic relationships of any kind. An individual may choose celibacy for religious reasons, such as is the case for priests in some religions, for reasons of...

 of the newly wedded couple, the mention of brothers and sisters of Jesus in the canonical Gospels, and Joseph's other children spoken of in apocryphal literature – concerns discussed very frankly by Jean Gerson
Jean Gerson
Jean Charlier de Gerson , French scholar, educator, reformer, and poet, Chancellor of the University of Paris, a guiding light of the conciliar movement and one of the most prominent theologians at the Council of Constance, was born at the village of Gerson, in the bishopric of Reims in...

 for example, who nonetheless favoured showing him as a younger man. In recent centuries – in step with a growing interest in Joseph's role in Gospel exegesis – he himself has become a focal figure in representations of the Holy Family. He is now often portrayed as a younger or even youthful man (perhaps especially in Protestant depictions), whether going about his work as a carpenter, or participating actively in the daily life of Mary and Jesus as an equal and openly affectionate member.

Full cycles of his life are rare in the Middle Ages, though the scenes from the Life of the Virgin
Life of the Virgin
The Life of the Virgin, showing narrative scenes from the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is a common subject for pictorial cycles in Christian art, often complementing, or forming part of, a cycle on the Life of Christ. In both cases the number of scenes shown varies greatly with the space...

or Life of Christ where he is present are far more often seen. The Mérode Altarpiece of about 1425, where he has a panel to himself, working as a carpenter, is an early example of what remained relatively rare depictions of him pursuing his métier. Some statues of Joseph depict his staff as topped with flowers, recalling the non-canonical Protoevangelion
Gospel of James
The Gospel of James, also known as the Infancy Gospel of James or the Protoevangelium of James, is an apocryphal Gospel probably written about AD 145, which expands backward in time the infancy stories contained the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and presents a narrative concerning the birth and...

's account of how Mary's spouse was chosen by collecting walking sticks of widowers in Israel, and Joseph's alone bursting into flower, thus identifying him as divinely chosen. Several Eastern Orthodox Nativity
Nativity of Jesus in art
The Nativity of Jesus has been a major subject of Christian art since the 4th century. The artistic depictions of the Nativity or birth of Jesus, celebrated at Christmas, are based on the narratives in the Bible, in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and further elaborated by written, oral and...

 icons show Joseph tempted by the Devil
Devil
The Devil is believed in many religions and cultures to be a powerful, supernatural entity that is the personification of evil and the enemy of God and humankind. The nature of the role varies greatly...

 (depicted as an old man with furled wings) to break off his betrothal, and how he resists that temptation. There are some paintings with him wearing a Jewish hat.

See also


  • Joseph, the name
  • Solemnity of Saint Joseph
    Solemnity of Saint Joseph
    Saint Joseph's Day, March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph is in Western Christianity the principal feast day of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It has the rank of a solemnity in the Roman Catholic Church; traditional Catholics celebrate it as a double of the first class...

  • History of Joseph the Carpenter
    History of Joseph the Carpenter
    The History of Joseph the Carpenter is one of the texts within the New Testament apocrypha concerned with period of Jesus' life before he was 12....

  • Prayer to Saint Joseph
    Prayer to Saint Joseph
    The following Prayers to Saint Joseph are Roman Catholic prayers to Saint Joseph.-Litany of St. Joseph:The litany of St. Joseph, one of the more recent Catholic prayers, was sanctioned by Pope Pius X in 1909.V/ Lord, have mercy.R/ Lord, have mercy....

  • Genealogy of Jesus
    Genealogy of Jesus
    The genealogy of Jesus is described in two passages of the Gospels: Luke 3:23–38 and Matthew 1:1–17.* Matthew's genealogy commences with Abraham and then from King David's son Solomon follows the legal line of the kings through Jeconiah, the king whose descendants were cursed, to Joseph, legal...

  • The Gospel According to Jesus Christ
    The Gospel According to Jesus Christ
    The Gospel According to Jesus Christ is a novel by the Portuguese author José Saramago. A fictional re-telling of Jesus Christ's life, it depicts him as a flawed, humanised character with passions and doubts...


Further reading

  • Guardian of the Redeemer (Redemptoris Custos) by Pope John Paul II, St. Paul Books and Media (January 1, 1989) ASIN: B002AQ5E08

External links