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Who is St. Joseph

Joseph of the House of David was betrothed to Mary, mother of Jesus. According to Christian tradition he acted as the foster father of Jesus, gave him his name and became the legal father. They believe he knew Jesus was not an ordinary child and undertook God’s work to look after the family. It is said he taught Jesus math and carpentry. He is venerated as St. Joseph by the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, and Anglican churches.


He is not mentioned at the time of the crucifixion. It is believed he died before. He was alive when Jesus was twelve on a visit to Jerusalem but is not mentioned after that. Mary was considered a widow during Jesus’ adult ministry. St. Joseph is the patron of a happy death because it is said he died in the arms of Mary and Jesus as a pious believer, receiving grace at the moment of death. He is also the patron saint of many countries and US states as well as working men, fathers, house sellers and buyers and expectant mothers, travelers and immigrants.


St. Joseph is considered to be a compassionate and caring man because he was concerned for Mary’s well being when he knew she was pregnant and it wasn’t his child. He is considered a man of faith because when he had a vision that Mary’s child was the son of God, he married her immediately and cared for Jesus as his own. He protected the family from King Herod and took his family every year to Jerusalem for Passover. This kind of sacrifice on the part of a person is what made St. Joseph the patron saint of fathers. He is always depicted in paintings and nativity scenes as an elderly man. He was said to be 90 years old when he wed Mary.


Joseph was called a just man and was chosen by God to be the foster father of Jesus and the husband of the Virgin Mother. This alone should have made him a saint, so why did it take so long for him to get his rightful recognition? The main reason is that during the first centuries of the existence of the Church it was only the martyrs who were venerated. He was first given the recognition due to him by the Copts in the East at the beginning of the fourth century. In the West, St. Joseph’s name appears in martyrologies of the ninth and tenth centuries. Only in 1129 is the first church dedicated to his honor at Bologna. Pope Benedict XIV stated that it was from the Fathers of Carmel imported from the East and into the West that the great practice of the cult of St. Joseph began.


Today, in the name of St. Joseph, people are requested to consider taking in a child that needs a home. His saint medals are popular for craftsmen, fathers, and real estate people. It is said if there is a statue of St. Joseph near the for sale sign in front of your home, it will sell quickly.

This article was published on Thursday 19 November, 2009.

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