Here are 8 things you might not know about St. Joseph, the foster father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1) He has no recorded words in Scripture
He protected the immaculate Mother of God and helped raise the Lord of the Universe! But he doesn’t get even one quote. Rather, he’s a silent, humble servant of God who does his task well, and no more.
2) He is not even mentioned in the Gospel of Mark – or most of the New Testament
Joseph is mentioned in Matthew, Luke, once in John (someone calls Jesus “the son of Joseph”) – and that’s it. He’s not mentioned at all in Mark or in the rest of the New Testament.
3) His exit from the story of the Gospels is left unexplained in Scripture
He’s an important figure in the Nativity narratives of Matthew and Luke, and he is included in the story of finding the 12-year-old Jesus with the teachers of the Law in the Temple.
But that’s the last we hear of him. Mary comes up several times during Jesus’ ministry, but Joseph is gone without a trace.
So what happened to him? Various traditions explain this gap by saying that Joseph died around Jesus’ 20th birthday.
4) He may have been an old widower
Scripture doesn’t tell us how old Joseph was when he married Mary, or really anything about his previous life.
An early tradition, though, claims that he was about 90 years old, and that he had been previously married, had children from that previous marriage, and that his wife had died, leaving him a widower. In this account, he knew that Mary had taken a vow of virginity, and he was chosen to marry Mary and serve as her protector in part because he was old and not interested in starting another family.
This helps to explain why he apparently died while Jesus was a young man, as well as explains why some people are referred to as Jesus’ “brothers” and “sisters” in the Gospels: they could have been Joseph’s children from a previous marriage, and so were Jesus’ step-siblings.
5) Veneration of him goes back at least to the 9th century
An early title used to honor him was nutritor Domini, meaning “guardian of the Lord.”
6) He has 2 feast days
The Solemnity of St. Joseph is March 19th (if this falls on a weekday during Lent, you can break your fast!), and the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker is May 1st.
Of course, he’s also included in the Feast of the Holy Family (December 30th, or thereabouts), and he’s certainly a part of the Christmas story.
7) He’s the patron of a bunch of stuff
He is the patron of the Universal Church, a happy death, families, fathers, expectant mothers, travelers, immigrants, craftsmen, engineers, and workers. He’s also the patron of the Americas, Canada, China, Croatia, Mexico, Korea, Austria, Belgium, Peru, the Philippines and Vietnam.
So start asking for his intercession!
8) Josephology is a thing
Among the sub-disciplines of theology, you’ve probably heard of Christology and Mariology. But did you know there’s Josephology now?
Of course, St. Joseph has been a figure of theological interest for centuries. But only in the 20th century did some people start to gather the Church’s insights about him into a sub-discipline of its own. In the 1950s, three centers dedicated to the study of St. Joseph were opened: one in Spain, one in Italy, and one in Canada.