St. Joseph, Husband of Mary

St Joseph the worker stained glass window

About St. Joseph

Image showing Joseph with the infant Jesus
Image of Joseph with the infant Jesus. Joseph holds a lily, a sign of purity.

St. Joseph, Husband of Mary


Feast Day: Feast Day of St. Joseph and Feast Day of St. Joseph the Worker

Important Dates: Feast Date - March 19th and May 1st


Most people recognize St. Joseph for his role in the Christmas story, as the husband of the Virgin Mary as well as the foster father of Jesus. Because of his blessed death, assisted by the Child Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph is the patron of a happy death.


Typically shown as a robed and bearded man. Often shown with carpentry tools, a lily and the child Jesus.

As he grew up in the village of Nazareth, Joseph would have studied the Torah from the ages of five to eleven. At the age of eleven he would become an apprentice for his life’s work as a carpenter who probably also worked in stone building the small homes in his own and surrounding villages. As a faithful Jew Joseph would also participate in Sabbath worship in his local synagogue. There he and his fellow men would learn the Scriptures, share in fellowship, and thank God for all of his blessings. He would daily pray Deuteronomy 6:4 – 9

Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. (5) You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. (6) Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. (7) Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. (8) Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, (9) and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Joseph’s betrothal to Mary would not have seemed to be so extraordinary. It would have been an arrangement made by their families. He undoubtedly knew Mary having grown up in the same area. He was pleased as her qualities as a young woman were apparent to all. So it came as a considerable shock to discover that she was pregnant. The Gospel of Matthew tells the story of Joseph’s struggle; When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. (Matthew 1: 18 – 19) Joseph loved Mary, and did not wish her to be shamed and exposed to snide comments or being outcast. He would quietly end the betrothal.

Joseph’s difficulties ended in revelation in a dream. He discovered that he was chosen by God to be the earthly foster father of Jesus and the protector of his family.

20 But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1: 20 – 21)

As a faithful Jew, Joseph would also know the promise of the Messiah. As Mary did, he also said “Yes!” to God and acted in obedience to the Holy Spirit.

It was not an easy life. It involved the taking his family to Egypt to save Jesus from Herod’s soldiers (Matthew 2: 13 – 15). When they returned to Nazareth, Joseph had the daily concerns of finding enough work to feed his family. Even after making the costs of everyday life, the family managed to save enough to participate in the yearly Passover celebration in Jerusalem accompanied by their family and friends. (Luke 1: 41 – 51)

Joseph’s life, work, and his continuing care and protection of the Holy Family is hidden from us. And in this way he is a model for all men who in their families and religious communities in their daily labor love and support all who come under their protection. It is for this reason that Pope Pius IX declared St Joseph to be the Patron of the Church. St Joseph was also declared the patron of workers celebrated on May 1. And as tradition tells us that he died in the presence of Mary and Jesus, we may also pray for his intercession for a holy death.

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More About St. Joseph

Joseph and the baby JesusMost people recognize St. Joseph for his role in the Christmas story, as the husband of the Virgin Mary as well as the foster father of Jesus. Some people also associate him with his carpentry skills, and may picture him holding wood-working tools. The Bible does not mention much about St. Joseph, but in knowing that God chose him to be such an important figure in the lives of both Mary and Jesus, we can only imagine what an extraordinary and holy man he must have been.

St. Joseph’s lineage is noted in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, stating that he descended from King David, known as the greatest king of Israel. He was betrothed to the Virgin Mary but had not yet begun living with her when he discovered that she was with child. Unsure of what to do when faced with this information, St. Joseph wanted to quietly divorce her so as not to expose her to shame. However, he was visited by an angel in a dream who told him not to be afraid to take Mary into his home, for the child within her womb was the Son of God. Because St. Joseph was a man of great faith, he believed what was told to him in the dream, and took Mary into his home as his wife.

Joseph, Mary and Jesus

When it came time for Joseph and Mary to register for the census, they had to travel to Bethlehem, where Joseph’s family was from. It was during this journey that Mary gave birth to the baby Jesus. St. Joseph received another message from an angel in a dream after Jesus was born, telling him to take his family and flee to Egypt in order to escape the persecution which was about to happen. By listening to this message and trusting in God, Jesus’ life was spared, for King Herod had issued a decree that all baby boys were to be slain in an attempt to do away with the newborn king he had heard about, who he knew would be competition to him. When it was safe to return home, St. Joseph brought his family back to Nazareth, where he and Mary raised Jesus.

Little is known about the life of St. Joseph during Jesus’ childhood. He is mentioned in the story recounted in the Gospel of Luke in which Jesus was thought to be lost. Joseph and Mary searched for three days for Jesus, and found him in the Temple with the elders. The worry expressed by Joseph shows that he had great love for Jesus. Also, at times in the Gospels, people from the community where the Holy Family lived would ask “Is this not the son of Joseph?” This question shows us that St. Joseph treated Jesus as his son while raising him, teaching him and loving him as a father would. The dedication to his family and willingness to listen to the will of God that St. Joseph demonstrated by his life have made him a model for all fathers.

St. Joseph does not appear during Jesus’ public ministry, nor is he mentioned during the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ passion and death. Due to this, it is believed that St. Joseph died prior to these events. As a result, he is the patron of the dying, since it is assumed that St. Joseph died a happy death, surrounded by Jesus and the Virgin Mary.

The Patronage of St. Joseph

St. Joseph is the patron saint of carpenters, the dying, fathers, house hunters, married people, single people, travellers, the universal church, and workers.

St Joseph Medal

St. Joseph in Art

St. Joseph is depicted in art as both a young man and an older man. His age at the time of his marriage to the Virgin Mary is unknown, so some traditions suggests that he was a young man, around Mary’s age, while others suggest he was older than her (which is why he died before Jesus’ public ministry). He is often shown with Jesus, either as a baby or a young boy. Many images show St. Joseph carrying carpentry tools as a symbol of his trade, as well as lilies, which signify his purity.

Medals of St. Joseph

Religious Medals of St. Joseph typically feature him with the Child Jesus. Often he is shown with a lily the symbol of his purity. St. Joseph medals are worn as a sacramental, a reminder of his fidelity to the plan of God and a source of encouragement and hope for fathers and other people.

St. Joseph Prayers

Ancient Prayer to St. Joseph (written circa 1st century)

O St. Joseph whose protection is so great, so strong,
so prompt before the Throne of God,
I place in you all my interests and desires.
O St. Joseph do assist me by your powerful intercession
and obtain for me from your Divine Son
all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord;
so that having engaged here below your Heavenly power
I may offer my Thanksgiving and Homage
to the most Loving of Fathers.
O St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you
and Jesus asleep in your arms.
I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart.
Press him in my name and kiss His fine Head for me,
and ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath.
St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls,
pray for us.

Prayer to St. Joseph for the Unemployed

O Saint Joseph, we pray to you for those who are out of work, for those who want to earn their living or support their families.
You who are the patron of workers; grant that unemployment may vanish from our ranks; that all those who are ready to work may put their strength and abilities in serving their fellow men and earn a just salary.
You are the patron of families; do not let those who have children to support and raise lack the necessary means. Have pity on our brothers and sisters held down in unemployment and poverty because of sickness or social disorders. Help our political leaders and captains of industry find new and just solutions. May each and every one have the joy of contributing, according to his abilities, to the common prosperity by an honorable livelihood. Grant that we may all share together in the abundant goods God has given us and that we may help underprivileged countries. Amen.

Prayer for Holy Purity

Guardian of virgins, and holy father Joseph, to whose faithful custody Christ Jesus, innocence itself, and Mary, virgin of virgins, were committed; I pray and beseech thee, by these dear pledges, Jesus and Mary, that, being preserved from all uncleanness, I may with spotless mind, pure heart, and chaste body, ever serve Jesus and Mary most chastely all the days of my life. Amen

Prayer to St. Joseph for a Safe Journey

O blessed St. Joseph, who didst accompany Jesus and Mary in all their journeys, and who hast therefore merited to be called the patron of all travelers, accompany us in this journey that we are about to undertake. Be our guide and our protector; watch over us; preserve us from all accidents and dangers to soul and body; support us in our fatigue, and aid us to sanctify it by offering it to God. Make us ever mindful that we are strangers, sojourners here below; that heaven is our true home; and help us to persevere on the straight road that leads thereunto. We beseech thee especially to protect and aid us in the last great voyage from time to eternity, so that, under thy guidance, we may reach the realm of happiness and glory, there to repose eternally with thee in the company of Jesus and Mary. Amen

Cite this article as: Weickert, Chris, Catholic Saint Medals, "St. Joseph, Husband of Maryst-joseph-husband-of-mary", https:/, published: . {@post_date)
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