St. Alphonsus Liguori:  Since we all must die, we should cherish a special devotion to St. Joseph, that he may obtain for us a happy death. All Christians regard him as the advocate of the dying who had honored him during their life, and they do so for three reasons: First, because Jesus Christ loved him not only as a friend, but as a father, and on this account his mediation is far more efficacious than that of any other Saint. Second, because St. Joseph has obtained special power against the evil spirits, who tempt us with redoubled vigor at the hour of death. Third, the assistance given St. Joseph at his death by Jesus and Mary obtained for him the right to secure a holy and peaceful death for his servants. Hence, if they invoke him at the hour of death he will not only help them, but he will also obtain for them the assistance of Jesus and Mary. 

 

Venerable Maria de Agreda: The day before St. Joseph died, being wholly inflamed with divine love, he was wrapped in an ecstasy... In this ecstasy he saw clearly the divine Essence, and, manifested therein, all that he had believed by faith: the incomprehensible Divinity, the mystery of the Incarnation and Redemption, the militant Church with all its Sacraments and mysteries. The Blessed Trinity commissioned and assigned him as the messenger of our Savior to the holy Patriarchs and Prophets of limbo; and commanded him to prepare them for their issuing forth from this bosom of Abraham to eternal rest and happiness. 

 

St. Francis de Sales:  St. Joseph, who had loved so much in his life, could not die but of love; … and having already performed the duty which was required in the childhood of Jesus, what remained was that he should say … to the Son, “O my child! As your heavenly Father put your tender body into my hands the day you came into this world, so do I render up my soul into your hands, this day of my departure out of the world.” Such, as I conceive, was the death of this great patriarch, a man elected to perform the most tender and loving offices that ever were or shall be performed to the Son of God, save those that were done by his sacred spouse, the true natural mother of the said Son.


St. Alphonsus Liguori:  "Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His faithful ones" (Ps. 115:6). After having faithfully served Jesus and Mary, St. Joseph reached the end of his life in the house at Nazareth. There, surrounded by angels, assisted by Jesus Christ the King of angels, and by Mary, his spouse, who placed themselves at each side of his poor bed, filled with the peace of paradise, he departed from this miserable life. Who shall ever be able to understand the sweetness, the consolation, the blessed hope, the acts of resignation, the flames of charity which the words of eternal life coming alternately from the lips of Jesus and Mary, breathed into the soul of Joseph at the end of his life?

 

Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace… - St. Luke 2:29

 

 

Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord henceforth. Yes, says the Spirit, let them rest from their labours, for their works follow them. — Revelation 14:13

After the event of the Passover in Jerusalem, we are not given any details about the life of the Holy Family in the Bible until Christ reaches the age of thirty years. What would have gone on during these years? These years would have been simpler and quieter than the preceding ones, with Jesus and St. Joseph working side by side at their trade. After this period of time, there are only brief references made to St. Joseph:

How did this man come by this wisdom and these miracles? Is this not the carpenter’s son? — St. Matthew 13:54-55

We have found him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write, Jesus the son of Joseph of Nazareth. — St. John 1:45

They said: is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph? — St. John 6:42

It is widely held that St. Joseph had passed away in Nazareth, while Jesus was still at home, before he departed and began his public ministry. Joseph is no longer mentioned, whereas Our Lady is still mentioned during and after this time in Christ’s life. The most notable examples are the Wedding Feast of Cana and the Crucifixion of Our Lord, which mention Mary but not her blessed spouse, who surely would have been at her side during these moments.

. . . A marriage feast took place at Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. — St. John 2:1

Now there were standing by the cross of Jesus his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary wife of Cleophas . . .  St. John 19:25

Surely, if Mary had been invited to the wedding feast, Joseph would have been with her as well, after all, a wedding feast is a gathering of family and friends, but he wasn’t. At the crucifixion scene, the mother of Christ stands at the foot of the cross with her sister and with John, the beloved apostle, to whom Jesus entrusts his mother. Had Joseph been alive, there would have been no need to place Mary into the care of his best friend.

One question that some people ask is, since Jesus had the power to resurrect the dead, such as he did for his friend Lazarus, why did he not do the same for his father on earth? Jesus did not do this for Joseph because Joseph had fulfilled his mission on earth – to guard, nurture and raise the Son of God into manhood. Joseph had indeed accomplished what the Lord had asked of him and fulfilled it with the utmost of love, honour, and humility. We are told by tradition that Joseph died out of his overwhelming love for Jesus.

Joseph is invoked as the Patron of a Happy Death, since we believe that he had the privilege of dying in the arms of Jesus, his Lord and Son, and Mary, his most blessed spouse. According to the Venerable Maria de Agreda, he died in this way:
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St. Joseph’s noble soul had been purified more and more each day in the crucible of affliction and of divine love. As the time passed his bodily strength gradually diminished and he approached the unavoidable end...

… For nine days and nights before the death of Saint Joseph he uninterruptedly enjoyed the company and attendance of Mary and her divine Son. By command of the Lord the holy angels, three times on each of the nine days, furnished celestial music, mixing their hymns of praise with the benedictions of the sick man. Moreover, their humble but most precious dwelling was filled with the sweetest fragrance and odors so wonderful that they comforted not only Saint Joseph, but invigorated all the numerous persons who happened to come near the house.

On the day before he died, being wholly inflamed with divine love on account of these blessings, he was wrapped in an ecstasy which lasted twenty–four hours. The Lord himself supplied Joseph the strength he needed for this miracle. In this ecstasy he saw clearly the divine Essence, and, manifested therein, all that he had believed by faith the incomprehensible Divinity, the mystery of the Incarnation and Redemption, the militant Church with all its Sacraments and mysteries. The blessed Trinity commissioned and assigned him as the messenger of our Savior to the holy Patriarchs and Prophets of limbo; and commanded him to prepare them for their issuing forth from this bosom of Abraham to eternal rest and happiness. 

When Saint Joseph issued from this ecstasy his face shone with wonderful splendor and his soul was transformed by his vision of the essence of God. … The most humble Joseph, sealing his life with an act of self–abasement, asked pardon of his heavenly Spouse for all his deficiencies in her service and love … The last words which Saint Joseph spoke to his Spouse were: 

“Blessed art Thou among all women and elect of all the creatures. Let angels and men praise Thee; let all the generations know, praise and exalt thy dignity; and may in Thee be known, adored and exalted the name of the Most High through all the coming ages; may He be eternally praised for having created Thee so pleasing in His eyes and in the sight of all the blessed spirits. I hope to enjoy thy sight in the heavenly fatherland.”

Then this man of God, turning toward Christ, our Lord, in profoundest reverence, wished to kneel before Him. But the sweetest Jesus, coming near, received him in his arms, where, reclining his head upon them, Joseph said:

“My highest Lord and God, Son of the eternal Father, Creator and Redeemer of the World, give thy blessing to thy servant and the works of thy hand; pardon, O most merciful King, the faults which I have committed in thy service and interactions. I extol and magnify Thee and render eternal and heartfelt thanks to Thee for having … chosen me to be the spouse of thy true Mother; let thy greatness and glory be my thanksgiving for all eternity.” 

The Redeemer of the world gave him his benediction, saying: “My father, rest in peace and in the grace of my eternal Father and mine; and to the Prophets and Saints, who await thee in limbo, bring the joyful news of the approach of their redemption.” At these words of Jesus, and reclining in his arms, the most fortunate Saint Joseph expired and the Lord himself closed his eyes. At the same time the multitude of the angels, who attended upon their King and Queen, intoned hymns of praise in loud and harmonious voices. By command of the Lord they carried his most holy soul to the gathering–place of the Patriarchs and Prophets, where it was immediately recognized by all as clothed in the splendors of incomparable grace, as the putative father and the intimate friend of the Redeemer, worthy of highest veneration. … His arrival spread joy in this countless gathering of the saints by the announcement of their speedy rescue.  – Venerable Maria de Agreda
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St. Joseph, having completed the mission entrusted to him on earth, was now ready for the next stage in his service to God. He was to be a herald and comfort to the Patriarchs of Limbo – announcing their coming redemption. After the Ascension of Christ, he would then be brought to Heaven where he would take on another role in God’s plan – that of the intercessor. 

♔ THE BOSOM OF ABRAHAM ♔
  
In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells us that no one has entered Heaven except for himself, and that no one will enter it until he has returned to the Father. Jesus is the gateway to the Eternal Paradise of Heaven since it was He who conquered the corruption of death, but doesn’t the Old Testament tell us that Elias was carried up to Heaven in a chariot of fire?

And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elias into heaven by a whirlwind . . . behold a fiery chariot and fiery horses parted them both asunder: and Elias went up by a whirlwind into heaven. — 4 Kings 2:1, 11

The prophets of the Old Testament were taken to Limbo, which is a type of waiting room to get into Heaven. Those who have not known Jesus Christ but who have led righteous lives go to this place. This would be the place of the dead, of those who had died before Jesus Himself was crucified and died, only to rise up from His tomb. As mentioned above in the extract from Venerable Maria de Agreda, Joseph is sent to Limbo in order to bring the good news that those souls would soon see the Messiah and enter into Heaven with Him.

The word “Limbo” refers to the edge of a hem on a garment, so the word is telling us that it is the border of two different places, and that is why this term is used to describe this place of waiting. The Bible itself does not use this word, but the place has been referred to as the Bosom of Abraham. This place was separated by a chasm with the righteous on one side and the wicked on the other. Jesus Himself refers to this place in the Parable of the Unjust Steward:

And it came to pass that the poor man died and was borne away by the angels into Abraham’s bosom; but the rich man also died and was buried in hell. And lifting up his eyes, being in torments, he saw Abraham afar off and Lazarus (the poor man) in his bosom. — St. Luke 16:22-24

St. Augustine (354-430) and St. Hippolytus of Rome (ca.170-236) both refer to Abraham’s Bosom as the place in the afterlife where the spirits await their entry into Heaven, and we cannot doubt that Joseph went to this place of Limbo. His mission on earth had just ended, but an even greater one was about to begin. We picture Joseph in the arms of his beloved Son as he sighs his last breath, with the peace of leaving this world behind to enter into his reward. His years of hard work and dutiful service to his family have paid off and have delivered him into eternal glory – in which we all hope to share.

Now Thou dost dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word, in peace . . . St. Luke 2:29

St. Alphonsus Liguori: Since we all must die, we should cherish a special devotion to St. Joseph, that he may obtain for us a happy death. All Christians regard him as the advocate of the dying who had honored him during their life, and they do so for three reasons: First, because Jesus Christ loved him not only as a friend, but as a father, and on this account his mediation is far more efficacious than that of any other Saint. Second, because St. Joseph has obtained special power against the evil spirits, who tempt us with redoubled vigor at the hour of death. Third, the assistance given St. Joseph at his death by Jesus and Mary obtained for him the right to secure a holy and peaceful death for his servants. Hence, if they invoke him at the hour of death he will not only help them, but he will also obtain for them the assistance of Jesus and Mary.

The Death of St. Joseph is celebrated by the Coptic Church on Abib 26 (July 20 – Julian Calendar, August 2 – Gregorian Calendar)