Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Little definite information has come down to us about the chosen soul who was to be, in God's providence, the earthly guardian of Our Lady and the Foster-father of the Incarnate Word. All that is reliably known of this "just man" named Joseph is contained in the first two chapters of the Gospels of Sts Mathew and Luke. In the apocryphal writings, which furnish us with many interesting details, it is next to impossible to separate those reports which may be based on true historical occurrences from those which are the product of pious imagination. Among such unproved claims must be classed the ancient tradition that Joseph was probably no older than 14. With St. Thomas Aquinas we may believe that at the time of the Annunciation by the Archangel Gabriel, young Mary and Joseph were merely affianced.
From the fact that there is no further reference to Joseph in the Bible after the finding of the boy Jesus in the temple, It has been reasonably inferred that he did not live to see the beginning of Our Lord's public ministry. The date and place of his death and burial are unknown, but devotion has been shown to him since the earliest times; the eastern Copts already celebrated a feast in his honour in the 4th century, and his cult has been steadily increasing in a marvelous manner.
St. Teresa of Avila (Spain) chose St. Joseph as the Patron of her reform of the Carmelite Order and her nuns were given the privilege in 1689 of keeping a feast honouring his patronage.
Joseph is, no doubt, the greatest and most beloved of all the saints of the Catholic Church next only to Mary. His greatness and that of Mary is measured by their closeness to Jesus Christ when he came to earth two millennia ago as the Word-Made-Flesh, the God-with-Us, to impart eternal life to all who believed in him. Little wonder then that Pope Pius IX, on 8 December 1870, in response to the petition of the over 300 prelates assembled at Vatican Council I (1869 - 70), proclaimed Joseph the Patron Saint of the Universal Church.
The kingdom of Christ's reign of grace on earth commenced the moment he was born a child of the Holy Family where Joseph was the least in personal worth, yet at the level of grace far greater than any human person except Mary. Rightly then, the Catholic Church, to use the words of Pope Pius IX, teaches that St. Joseph has been designated by God as the master of his goods and of his household. In 1955 Pope Pius XII added the title, "Patron of workmen|, the feast to be celebrated on 1 May.
St. Joseph is also invoked for a happy death. "All should go to Joseph in their difficulties" the Church advises and urges!
Great in the spirit, great in faith, St. Joseph comes through as a man who heard the words of the living God __ he listened to those words in silence, and became, as it were, the first witness of the Divine Mystery.
Reflection :"Some Saints are privileged to extend to us their patronage with particular efficacy in certain needs, but not in others; but our holy Patron St. Joseph has the power to assist us in all cases, in every necessity, in every undertaking" (St. Thomas Aquinas).