A Short Biography of St. Joseph Life
Foster-Father of the Child Jesus
St. Joseph's Virtues
Words of Our Lady to St. Bridget of Sweden
"St. Joseph was so reserved and careful in his speech
that not one word ever issued from his mouth that was not good
and holy, nor did he ever indulge in unnecessary or less than
charitable conversation. He was most patient and diligent in bearing
fatigue; he practiced extreme poverty; he was most meek in bearing
injuries; he was strong and constant against my enemies; he was
the faithful witness of the wonders of Heaven, being dead to the
flesh and the world, living only for God and for Heavenly goods,
which were the only things he desired. He was perfectly conformed
to the Divine Will and so resigned to the dispositions of Heaven
that he ever repeated" May the Will of God ever be done in
me!" He rarely spoke with men, but continually with God,
whose Will he desired to perform. Wherefore, he now enjoys great
glory in Heaven."
The Holy family is made up of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
From very early in youth, a person usually learns about the story
of Christmas: baby Jesus, and the Holy family. Saint Joseph
is generally overlooked and all focus is on Jesus and on Mary.
Surely, St. Joseph is a secondary figure in the life of
Jesus and rightly so; however, how much information about the
life of St. Joseph do we really know?
Who is Saint Joseph? Second only to Mary, Saint Joseph
is the person that spent the most earthly hours and days with
Jesus. The names of his mother and father have been lost to history
– unknown. Genealogy research shows he was of the house
of David, lineage through Solomon. Also lost to history are the
date and place of St. Joseph's birth and the date of his death,
so his chronological age is always based upon guesswork. The Christmas
story tells us he and Mary had to return to Bethlehem for the
census, so we know there is some sort of direct connection to
that community, whether at birth or later years.
We learn some details of St. Joseph's life through teachings
about his dreams and from encounters with angels.
The first is when he is assured by an angel in a dream that he
is to take Mary as his wife, so we know he was single at that
point. Whether he was a widower with children from a prior marriage
is a possibility, but there is not current agreement from biblical
scholars on that point. That point fuels great discussions as
to whether siblings of Jesus were direct siblings or were through
a prior marriage of St. Joseph.
Eight days after his birth, St. Joseph brings Jesus to the temple
for circumcision, a requirement of the Jewish faith. At this time,
St. Joseph gives the baby the name “Jesus”
and takes legal paternal custody, just as he was instructed by
an angel in his dream.
An inexact few years later, an angel instructs St. Joseph
to flee with his family to Egypt to elude death from Herod. Later,
a dream angel guides St. Joseph to return to the district of Galilee,
which he does and creates a family home in the village of Nazareth.
What is an exceptional fact about Saint Joseph's life is
that he never speaks in any parts of the Bible. Therefore, we
come by these angel appearances and instructions by second-hand,
and never directly from the source, which hopefully was Saint
Joseph himself in each instance.
Once settled in Nazareth, with Jesus of an unknown age though
certainly still in boyhood, Saint Joseph supports the family
as a carpenter. Just as we have in today's society, carpentry
had many sub-specialties in Jesus’ time (framer, rough carpenter,
etc.). We are told St. Joseph worked in a carpentry “shop”
where Jesus was often with St. Joseph and sometimes worked
in the shop. It is not sure that St. Joseph owned the shop,
but in any event by today's lingo, he apparently was a “finish”
carpenter. Imagine the amount of influence, the direction, the
correction, and the formation that Saint Joseph provided
to the boy Jesus. Aside from Mary, no other human that has ever
lived spent more personal time in direct contact with God, through
his anointed son Jesus.
The last time we encounter Saint Joseph is in the description
of Jesus in the temple in Jerusalem at the age of twelve. Mary
and Joseph had departed from Jerusalem to return home amidst
a large entourage heading in the same general direction. His parents
assumed Jesus was in the entourage and were shocked to learn otherwise,
and it is described St. Joseph and Mary returned to the
temple and safely brought Jesus home. Imagine the human fatherly
“instruction” Saint Joseph undoubtedly gave
to Jesus on that occasion.
That's it. Abrupt end of biography of Saint Joseph.
He is never mentioned again in Scripture. The remainder of his
life, the cause of his death, the place of his death, and the
place of his burial are not clear. We do know Mary is described
as a widow when Jesus is about 30 years old, but we have no knowledge
of Saint Joseph once Jesus reaches the age of twelve.
What happened in those 18 years is completely unknown to factual
The Body and Tomb of St. Joseph
"In an ecstasy, a Saint has seen the body of St. Joseph
preserved intact in a tomb, the site of which is yet unlnown.
The more the glorious spouse of the most Blessed Virgin is honored,
the sooner will the finding of his body take place, which will
be a day of great joy for the Church." (Words of Father
Paul of Moll, 1824-1896, from Father Paul of Moll, by Edward van
An ancient tradition states that the tomb of St.
Joseph, now empty, is in the Valley of Josaphat. St. Jerome, on
the other hand, was of the opinion that St. Joseph's tomb is within
the boundaries of the Garden of Gethsemane. (See Life and Glories
of St. Joseph by Edward Healy Thompson, pp.409-410)
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