Protector of Family
By Clyde Ericson Nolasco
What we know about St. Joseph is based on Scriptures. He can be found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. (The Gospel of Mark did not mention anything about St. Joseph, while John, though he mentioned that Jesus had an earthly father, only focused on Jesus’ human origin.)
Let’s try to masticate the limited artifacts we have to get to know more about St. Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father.
Here are 15 things we know about St. Joseph based on the Scriptures:
1. He was a carpenter.
He is a carpenter or a “tekton” in Greek. In Matthew 13:55, it says: Isn't he the carpenter's son? Tekton can also mean a “craftsman.”
2. He was of humble means
He was not rich. Because of this, instead of offering a lamb, he could only afford two turtledoves when he took Jesus to be circumcised and Mary to be purified at the temple.
3. He was of kingly lineage, a descendant of King David.
In Matthew, Joseph's lineage is traced back to King David. Despite his humble work and means, he comes from the line of David, the greatest king of Israel (Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38).
4. He was a compassionate man.
Women, during that time, when found pregnant without a husband would be punished by stoning to death. Upon hearing Mary’s pregnancy and in spite of confusion because he knew it was not his child, he didn't expose Mary outright. Instead, he quietly protected her.
5. The Angel of the Lord also appeared to him.
He also had his versions of the Annunciation but these happened in his dreams. In the times of confusion, the angel of the Lord would appear to him.
In Matthew 1:18-24, an angel appeared in his dream to tell him that the baby Mary was carrying was God’s and he must not be afraid to take her as his wife.
In Matthew 2:13-23, a second "Annunciation" to him was mentioned: an angel of the Lord visited Him in a dream, warning him to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt to escape Herod and Herod's evil plan to kill babies.
6. He treated Jesus as his own son.
Joseph took care of Jesus as his own son. After their flight to Egypt and then after being informed by the angel that Herod was dead, he took his wife Mary and Jesus back to Israel but stayed in Nazareth.
7. He was a faithful servant of the Lord.
He was faithful and obedient to the laws of God. He respected God’s interventions in his life. He followed the instructions God would give him, especially when it was about Mary and Jesus.
8. It is not stated in the Scriptures when and how he died
In the latter part of the life of Jesus, during his ministry and even in his passion, we would not find Joseph in the story. Many historians would say that he already died even before Jesus started his public ministry. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the Apocryphal Date for Joseph's birth is 90 BC in Bethlehem and the Apocryphal Date of his death is July 20, AD 18 in Nazareth.
10. There are many depictions of Joseph
In art, he is usually portrayed as an old fragile man with balding grey hair. Statues and images sometimes depict him carrying a staff with a budding lily to symbolize his purity and his celibate marriage to Mary. Other art depict him as holding a carpenter’s tools. A popular image is one of him carrying the infant Jesus.
11. Pope Francis encouraged patronage to St. Joseph
Around 2015, the image of the Sleeping Joseph became famous. It was during Pope Francis' visit to the Philippines that this devotion to the Sleeping Joseph started. His Holiness said, “I have great love for Saint Joseph because he is a man of silence and strength. On my table I have an image of Saint Joseph sleeping (because) even when he is asleep, he is taking care of the Church!" The Pope even advised people to leave a "note" under the image of the saint for help whenever they have a problem.
12. He is the patron saint of many:
He is the patron saint of the Universal Church. Pope Pius IX proclaimed Saint Joseph the patron of the Universal Church in 1870.
He is also the patron saint of families, the “Domestic Church” because he did his best to protect Mary and Jesus.
He is also considered the patron saint of fathers and we pray that he extend his paternal protection to all of us and serve as a role model for the father of the Holy Family.
He is the patron saint for expectant mothers (pregnant women).
He is the patron saint of travelers and immigrants
He is the patron saint of house sellers and buyers.
He is the patron saint of craftsmen, engineers, and working people in general.
He is the patron saint of the dying. It was assumed that during his last breath, Mary and Jesus were with him, and as Christians that is how we want to spend our last minutes here on earth. He is considered the model of a pious believer who receives grace at the moment of death, in other words, the patron for a happy death.
He is the patron saint of the New World or the countries China, Canada, Korea, Mexico, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Peru, Vietnam; as well as some small counties, towns, cities and regions.
13. He has two feast days
Unlike most saints, Joseph has two feast days:
March 19, Joseph as the Husband of Mary
May 1, Joseph the Worker
March 19 was the most commonly celebrated feast day for Joseph until in 1955, Pope Pius XII established the Feast of "St. Joseph the Worker" to be celebrated on May 1. This holiday/holy-day is popularly known as International Workers' Day and believed to reflect Joseph's status as the patron saint of workers.
14. Many places and churches are named after St. Joseph.
Some even use the Spanish form: “San Jose”. There are 29 cities in the world named San Jose.
15. There is a St. Joseph's Table.
This is also called “St. Joseph Table” and is put up every March 19. This tradition dates back to medieval times in Sicily, Italy. It is said that in the 1600s, Sicilians prayed to St. Joseph to survive the famine and promised to dedicate a day in honor of him. The table is composed of St. Joseph’s statue enshrined and designed with bread, fruits and vegetables, and fava beans — the only crop that was able to grow during the famine.
St. Joseph, Pray for us!
“There are many saints to whom God has given the power to assist us in the necessities of life, but the power given to St. Joseph is unlimited:
It extends to all our needs, and all those who invoke him with confidence
are sure to be heard.”
- St. Thomas Aquinas