Saint Joseph’s Day
Saint Joseph (1st Century). Our only reliable information about Joseph is to be found in the Infancy narratives of Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2. According to them Joseph is of royal descent from David. Joseph’s family came from Bethlehem in Judea but he had moved to Nazareth in Galilee, where he was a builder. He was betrothed to Mary, became alarmed when he found Mary was pregnant though she had not lived with him, and was dissuaded from divorcing her by the angel of the Lord who told him her pregnancy was, “by the Holy Spirit.” He was with Mary at the birth of Jesus and the visit by the Magi at Bethlehem. He took Mary and the child to Egypt to escape Herod’s massacre of the infants, and after the death of Herod, brought them back to Nazareth. He and Mary had Jesus circumcised and presented to the Lord in the Temple in Jerusalem. When Jesus was twelve Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem, lost him, and found him discoursing with the doctors in the temple. Thereafter the name of Joseph is absent from the New Testament except in Luke 4:22, where he is mentioned by name as the father of Jesus. Joseph was probably dead by the time of the Passion and death of Christ; the apocryphal Photovangelium of James says he was and old many when he married Mary. Special veneration to Joseph began in the East, where the apocryphal History of Joseph enjoyed great popularity in the fourth to the seventh centuries. In the West the ninth-century Irish Felire of Oengus mentions a commemoration, but it was not until the fifteenth century that veneration of Joseph in the West became widespread, when his feast was introduced into the Roman calendar in 1479, his devotion was particularly popularized by St. Teresa and St. Francis de Sales. Joseph was declared Patron of the Universal Church by Pope Pius IX in 1870; a model for fathers of families by Pope Leo XIII, who confirmed that his preeminent sanctity places him next to the Blessed Virgin among the saints, in his encyclical Quanquam pluries in 1889; a protector of workingmen by Pope Benedict XV; the patron of social justice by Pope Pius XI; and in 1955, Pope Pius XII established the feast of St. Joseph the Working on May 1, March 19.
© Victoria Hart Glavin