Who is St. Joseph?


Quick Info: St. Joseph is a descendant of the House of King David. After being espoused to the Virgin Mary, he found her with child and, being “a just man and unwilling to put her to shame” (St. Matthew 1:19), decided to divorce her quietly; but an angel told him that the child was the Son of God and was conceived by the Holy Ghost.

Obeying the angel, Joseph took Mary as his wife. After Jesus' birth at Bethlehem in Judea, where the Holy family received the Magi, an angel warned Joseph and Mary about the impending violence against the child by King Herod the Great of Judea, whereupon they fled to Egypt. Years later the angel again appeared to Joseph, informing him of Herod's death and instructing him to return to the Holy Land. Avoiding Bethlehem out of fear of Herod's successor, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus settled in Nazareth (St. Matthew 2:22–23) in Galilee, where Joseph taught his craft of carpentry to Jesus. Joseph is last mentioned in the Gospels when he and Mary frantically searched 3 days for the 12 year old Jesus in Jerusalem, where they found him in the Temple (St. Luke 2:41–48). Joseph's death is believed to have occurred before Jesus' public ministry, as he is no longer mentioned.

Although the veneration of Joseph seems to have begun in Egypt, the earliest Western devotion to him dates from the early 14th century, when the Servites, an order of mendicant friars, observed his feast on March 19, the traditional day of his death. Among the subsequent promoters of the devotion was Pope Sixtus IV, who introduced it at Rome c. 1479, and the celebrated 16th-century mystic St. Teresa of Avila. Already patron of Mexico, Canada, and Belgium, Joseph was declared patron of the Universal Church by Pope Pius IX in 1870. In 1955 Pope Pius XII established the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker as May 1 in counter-celebration to the Communists' May Day.