March 19 and May 1
Foster Father of Jesus and Husband of Mary,
Joseph of Nazareth is the patron saint of numerous professions, causes, countries, cities and organizations, including: bursars, cabinetmakers, carpenters, confectioners, craftsmen, dying people, engineers, families, fathers, house sellers, immigrants, joiners, manual laborers, North America, pioneers, pregnant women, realtors, social justice, step fathers, travelers, unborn children, Universal Church, wheelwrights, and workers.
He is also invoked against doubt or hesitation.
Our Anachron (Anachronistic Icon)
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Joseph was a descendent of King David, and a carpenter by trade. But he was also known as a “just man” — thus chosen by God to be foster father to Christ and husband to the Virgin Mary. What little is known about him is found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.
A resident of Nazareth (though most likely born in Bethlehem), he was betrothed to Mary when an angel told her she had conceived the Son of God. Whatever doubts Joseph may have had about the conception were dispelled by an angel who appeared to him in a dream. (Angels seem always there to guide him.)
He took Mary back to Bethlehem where the Infant was born in a manger (because there was no room at the inn). Soon after, an angel instructed Joseph to take his new family to Egypt to escape the wrath of the Roman Emperor, Herod.
When it was safe to return to Israel, an angel told him so, and they made their home at Nazareth in Galilee.
Joseph is believed to have died peacefully, before Christ, having fulfilled his duties with honor, compassion and courage.
Because he was not a martyr, he was not recognized as a patron saint in the early days of Christianity. In fact, he was often portrayed as a comic character in medieval mystery plays. It is later saints, such as Bridget of Sweden, Bernard of Sienna, Theresa of Avila and Ignatius Loyola, who are credited with popularizing devotion to him.
Eventually Joseph became so popular that he was even accorded two feast days: his Name Day on March 19 and St. Joseph the Worker on May 1. His day is observed in many countries. In Poland, for instance, it is customary to celebrate “Imienien” or “Namesday,” the feast day of one’s patron saint. March 19 occurs during Lent, but the Church granted a dispensation from the austerities of Lenten dining so the many Josephs could celebrate.
Throughout Italy, but especially Sicily, bountiful, meatless banquets are held, called “St. Joseph’s Tables.” This tradition is in honor of a time in the Middle Ages when St. Joseph answered Sicilians’ prayers to end a famine caused by drought.
(Click on the image below to read about St. Joseph’s Day.)
“How does Joseph respond to his calling to be the protector of Mary, Jesus and the Church? By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and receptive to God’s plans, and not simply to his own. This is what God asked of David, as we heard in the first reading. God does not want a house built by men, but faithfulness to his word, to his plan. It is God himself who builds the house, but from living stones sealed by his Spirit. Joseph is a “protector” because he is able to hear God’s voice and be guided by his will; and for this reason he is all the more sensitive to the persons entrusted to his safekeeping. He can look at things realistically, he is in touch with his surroundings, he can make truly wise decisions. In him, dear friends, we learn how to respond to God’s call, readily and willingly, but we also see the core of the Christian vocation, which is Christ! Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation!”
Also known as a “Little Rosary” or An Paidrin Beag, the piece is crafted from olivewood beads from Bethlehem, and a carved wood cross that reverses to an image of St. Joseph. Knotted leather cord attaches them to German silver ring and bail.
Two days after St. Patrick’s Day Italians will celebrate St. Guiseppe. Click on the image to visit “Life in Italy.”
Another custom is to bury a small statue of St. Joseph in the yard if you wish to find a buyer for your home. You can read all about it here: St. Joseph, Real Estate Agent?
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