St. Joseph

Feast Day March 19th

Patron Saint of the Universal Church, unborn children, fathers, workers, travelers, immigrants, and a happy death

St. Joseph, in all likelihood, was born in Bethlehem, and it is generally assumed that he died at Nazareth before Jesus began his ministry. From the early chapters of Matthew and Luke we glean that he was a carpenter by trade, a just and pious man, and a most excellent husband and father. The genealogy given in Matthew i, 1-17, traces his line from Abraham and King David. He was betrothed to the Virgin Mary, who was also of the race of David. Later, having learned that she was with child, though he had not been near her, he was privately considering putting her away. Yet he hesitated, for he was a kindly man, and he did not wish to expose the young woman to the reproach. It was at this time of uncertainty that the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and revealed to him the Mystery of the Incarnation. “Do not be afraid, Joseph, son of David,” said the angel, “to take to thee Mary thy wife, for that which is begotten of her is of the Holy Spirit. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shall call his name Jesus; for he shall save the people from their sins” (Luke 20-21).

Joseph now accepted without question the two-fold office with which he was charged, protector of Mary’s honor and foster father of the child that was to be born. He took Mary with him from Nazareth to Bethlehem, when it was necessary to return there for the census-taking. Then came the birth of the Lord. We know that Joseph was at the stable of the inn beside his wife when the three wise men, following a star, came there out of the East to honor the newborn child with precious gifts.

The angel of the Lord again appeared to Joseph to tell him to flee with his family into Egypt to escape the wrath of the jealous King Herod. Obediently Joseph hastened to comply, and the family stayed in Egypt until word came of Herod’s death, when it was safe for them to return to their homeland. Back in the pleasant hill-town of Nazareth, Joseph carried on his trade, teaching it to Jesus as the boy grew older. The important event of every year was the Passover, when the pious traveled to Jerusalem to share in the ceremonies. Joseph and Mary were in the habit of going on this journey, and we are told that Joseph shared his wife’s anxiety when, on one such occasion, the twelve-year-old Jesus became separated from them, and was later found debating with the learned men in the temple. Thus all we know of Joseph adds to the picture of the gentle, protective father and husband.

Devotion to St. Joseph was practiced from very early times in Ireland, and in the Middle Ages in Europe many fanciful stories were woven about his name. In spite of this popularity, it was not until 1870, under Pope Pius IX, that he was proclaimed patron of the Universal Church, and Wednesdays in March were set for special devotion to him. The great number of churches dedicated to St. Joseph is an indication of the breadth and depth of this veneration.


Intercessory Prayers to St. Joseph

To you, O blessed Joseph, do we come in our tribulation, and having implored the help of your most holy spouse, we confidently invoke your patronage also.

Through that charity which bound you to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God and through the paternal love with which you embraced the Child Jesus, we humbly beg you graciously to regard the inheritance which Jesus Christ has purchased by his Blood, and with your power and strength to aid us in our necessities.

O most watchful Guardian of the Holy Family, defend the chosen children of Jesus Christ. O most loving father, ward off from us every contagion of error and corrupting influence.

O our most mighty protector, be propitious to us and from heaven assist us in our struggle with the power of darkness; and, as once you rescued the Child Jesus from deadly peril, so now protect God’s Holy Church from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity; shield, too, each one of us by your constant protection, so that, supported by your example and your aid, we may be able to live piously, to die holily, and to obtain eternal happiness in heaven.