- For other uses, see Saint Joseph (disambiguation).
Saint Joseph, also referred to as Joseph the Betrothed and as Joseph of Nazareth, was the foster-father of Jesus, according to the New Testament (Matthew 1:16; Luke 3:23). Not much is known of Joseph except that he was "of the House of David" and lived in the town of Nazareth. His date of death is unknown, though he was still living when Jesus was 12 years old. He is the patron saint of workers and has several feast days -- see Saint Joseph's Day.
He was betrothed to Mary at the time that Mary conceived Jesus. Luke says that he lived at Nazareth in Galilee (Luke 2:4); however, according to Matthew, it was only after the return from Egypt that he settled in Nazareth (Matthew 2:23). He is called a "just man." He was by trade a carpenter (Matthew 13:55). He is last mentioned in connection with the journey to Jerusalem, when Jesus was twelve years old. It is probable that Joseph died before Jesus entered on his public ministry because only Mary was present at the marriage feast in Cana of Galilee, and he is not described at the crucifixion along with Mary (John 19:25). In addition Joseph of Arithmia asked for the body of Jesus a duity that would have included Saint Joseph had he been alive.
Jesus is described as being the brother of James, Joses, Jude, and Simon, and several sisters (Mark 6:3; Matthew 13:55). A tradition at least as early as the second century, still adopted by Eastern Orthodoxy, explains that these "brothers and sisters" were from Joseph's marriage to an unnamed woman, before Joseph married Mary and so making them step-brothers and step-sisters. Roman Catholicism has a tradition that these were cousins of Jesus, and that Joseph was celibate.
That Jesus commended Mary to the care of John the Evangelist while he was hanging on the cross has been interpreted to also suggest that Joseph had died by that time, and that Joseph and Mary did not have any other children who might care for Mary.
In many icons of the Nativity, Joseph is shown being tempted by the Devil (depicted as an old man with furled wings) to break off his betrothal, and resisting that temptation.
Also in the imagery of the Christian church, statues of Joseph depict his staff topped with flowers, recalling the Protevangelion's account of how Mary's spouse was chosen. Among the collected walking sticks of widowers in Israel, Joseph was distinguished when his staff burst into flower.
Joseph is the patron saint of various things and places. Pope Pius IX proclaimed him the patron of the Universal Church on December 8, 1870. Joseph is the patron against doubt and hesitation, as well as the patron saint of fighting communism, and of a happy death.
Joseph is the patron saint of the Americas and the New World; of the countries China, Canada, Korea, Mexico, Austria, Belgium, Bohemia, Croatia, Peru, Vietnam; of the regions Carinthia, Styria, Tyrol, Sicily; of the cities and/or dioceses of Florence, Turin, Baton Rouge, Buffalo, Cheyenne, Louisville, Nashville, San Jose, Sioux Falls, etc.
Christians also believe he protects families, fathers, expectant mothers (pregnant women), travellers, immigrants, house sellers and buyers, craftsmen, engineers and working people in general.
To invoke Saint Joseph's selling effects, bury a small graven image of the saint inverted near the 'For Sale' sign. During the burial ceremony, recite a short heartfelt prayer requesting Joseph's intercession to sell your house. An example prayer would be:
- Joseph of Nazareth, I beseech thee
- to incercede on my behalf to help me
- find a worthy buyer for my home.
- I ask this in the holy name of Christ.
The practice is very common in Italy. Once the house is sold, Joseph is "rewarded" by being dug up, set aright and set in a place of honor in the family's new home.
The principal feast day of Saint Joseph is March 19, Saint Joseph's Day. Among Biblical saints, the veneration of Saint Joseph came very late to the Catholic Church. Pope Pius IX declared him patron of the universal Church, and Pope John XXIII added his name to the Mass canon. Some groups of Traditional Catholics reject this addition, but most use the 1962 missal, which includes this change.
See also: Prayer to Saint Joseph
- Patron Saints Index: Saint Joseph (http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/saintj01.htm)
- Catholic Online Saints: St. Joseph (http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=4)