Protector of the Carmelite Order and
Patron of our Carmelite Monastery at Kilmacud
Feast Day: 19 March
St. Joseph, Father to Christ and Husband of Mary
Joseph, the father of Jesus during his childhood and youth in Nazareth
and the husband of Mary is introduced to us briefly in the infancy
narratives of the Gospels according to St Matthew and St. Luke. From
these sources come all we know about him, but over the centuries
Joseph has become one of the most popular saints because of his most
important role in salvation history.
We know that Joseph was a carpenter by trade and that he was of the tribe of
Judah and the House of David. Scripture describes him as a "just man",
but no spoken words of his are recorded. The chaste Joseph, son of Jacob, of the Old Testament was a prototype
of St. Joseph, the foster father of Our Lord. Pharaoh raised this Joseph from
his humble position in life to the highest dignity in the land of Egypt and
directed all his subjects to apply to Joseph in their needs, saying -
"Go to Joseph!" (Gen 41:55).
In the same words, the Church directs the
faithful to have recourse to St. Joseph in all their spiritual and
In 1847 Pope Pius IX
solemnly proclaimed St. Joseph "Patron and Protector of the Universal
Church". Although St. Joseph is our father and our advocate in all
necessities, he is especially considered the patron of a happy death, a
provider of financial help - particularly to the poor and to religious
communities - the patron of families, of labourers, of the sick, of
the poor, of the rich (to help them distribute their riches
charitably), of the suffering, of travellers, of exiles, of the
afflicted, of the married, of virgins, of the unborn, of youths, of
priests and of those aspiring to the priesthood, of those advanced in
virtue and those devoted to prayer.
Joseph has a long association with the Carmelite Order and holds a
special place in the hearts and devotion of all Carmelites. St. Teresa
had particular love for him (see below).
We here at Kilmacud hold him in special honour because our monastery -
like many Discalced Carmelite houses - is dedicated to him. We are
praying to him especially for new vocations, and we invite you, our
visitors, to do so too. We know that he is watching over our little
community and helping us to come closer to Jesus and Mary. All the
pictures of Joseph on this page are taken from inside our monastery.
Feasts of St Joseph
primary feast of St. Joseph is March 19. This feast was fixed in the
15th century and was extended to the whole Church by Pope Gregory XV in
1621. The Church also dedicates the entire month of March to St.
Joseph. In addition, pious custom dedicates Wednesday of each week to
the honour of St. Joseph.
May 1st was established as the feast of St. Joseph the Workman by Pope
Pius XII in 1955. The date was chosen to coincide with the date on
which Labour Day is observed in many countries, thus to elevate and
sanctify the observance.
St. Joseph and the Popes
Pope Leo XIII - Encyclical Quamquam pluries, Aug 15 1889
Since the bond of marriage existed between Joseph and the Blessed
Virgin, there can be no doubt that more than any other person he
approached that supereminient dignity by which the Mother of God is
raised far above all created natures.
Blessed Joseph... was indeed the husband of Mary and the father, as was
supposed, of Jesus Christ. From this arise all his dignity, grace,
holiness and glory... [The Church] is his numberless family, scattered
throughout all lands, over which he rules with a sort of paternal
authority, because he is the husband of Mary and the father of Jesus
Just as Mary, Mother of the Saviour, is spiritual mother of all
Christians... Joseph looks on all Christians as having been confided to
himself... He is the defender of the Holy Church, which is truly the
House of God and the Kingdom of God on earth.
Pope Paul VI - Extract from an Address on 5 January 1964
Nazareth teach us what family life is, its communion of love, its
austere and simple beauty, and its sacred and inviolable character. Let
us learn from Nazareth that the formation received at home is gentle
and irreplaceable. Let us learn the prime importance of the role of the
family in the social order.
Finally, there is a lesson of work. Nazareth, home of the "Carpenter's
Son", in you I would choose to understand and proclaim the severe and
redeeming law of human work; here I would restore the awareness of the
nobility of work; and reaffirm that work cannot be an end in itself,
but that its freedom and its excellence derive, over and above its
economic worth, from the value of those for whose sake it is
undertaken. And here at Nazareth, to conclude, I want to greet all the
workers of the world, holding up to them their great pattern, their
brother who is God. He is the prophet of all their just causes, Christ
Pope John Paul II
Redemptoris Custos (Guardian of the Redeemer)
To read the full document, click here
Pope Benedict XVI
Extract from Homily on 18 March 2009:
To be a father means above all to be at the
service of life and growth. St. Joseph, in this sense, gave proof
of great devotion. For the sake of Christ he experienced persecution,
exile and the poverty which this entails. He had to settle far from his
native town. His only reward was to be with Christ.
teaches us that it is possible to love without possessing. In
contemplating Joseph, all men and women can, by God's grace, come to
experience healing from their emotional wounds, if only they embrace
the plan that God has begun to bring about in those close to him, just
as Joseph entered into the work of redemption through Mary and as a
result of what God had already done in her. The
life of Saint Joseph, lived in obedience to God’s word, is an
eloquent sign for all the disciples of Jesus who seek the unity of the
Church. His example helps us to understand that it is only by
complete submission to the will of God that we become effective workers
in the service of his plan to gather together all mankind into one
family, one assembly, one 'ecclesia.'
Devotion to St. Joseph according to St. Teresa
Teresa of Jesus (of Avila) had great devotion to St. Joseph, and she
named her first new monastery
of Discalced Carmelite Nuns, and indeed
many more of the monasteries that she founded, after this great saint.
Whenever she made a new foundation, she took with her a statue of St.
Joseph. She attributes to him the cure of her paralysis during her
early years as a Carmelite nun as she relates in her Life:
"I took for my patron and
lord the glorious St. Joseph, and recommended myself earnestly to him.
I saw clearly that both out of this my present trouble, and out of
others of greater importance, relating to my honour and the loss of my
soul, this my father and lord delivered me, and rendered me greater
services than I knew how to ask for. I cannot call to mind that I have
ever asked him at any time for anything which he has not granted; and I
am filled with amazement when I consider the great favours which God
has given me through this blessed Saint; the dangers from which he has
delivered me, both of body and of soul." Life VI, 9
St. Joseph - intercessor for all our needs, according to St. Teresa:
other Saints Our Lord seems to have given power to succour us in some
special necessity - but to this glorious Saint, I know by experience,
He has given the power to help us in all. Our Lord would have us
understand that as He was subject to St. Joseph on earth - for St.
Joseph, bearing the title of father and being His guardian, could
command Him - so now in Heaven Our Lord grants all his petitions. I
have asked others to recommend themselves to St. Joseph, and they too,
know the same thing by experience...
It is now many years since I began asking him for something on his
feast, and I have always received it. If the petition was in any way
amiss, he rectified it for my greater good... I ask for the love of God
that he who does not believe me will make the trial for himself - then
he will find out by experience the great good that results from
commending oneself to this glorious Patriarch and in being devoted to
him..." Life VI, 9, 11, 12
St. Teresa on St. Joseph and those devoted to prayer:
persons who give themselves to prayer should in a special manner always
have great devotion to St. Joseph, for I know not how anyone can think
of the Queen of Angels during the time that she suffered so much with
the Infant Jesus without giving thanks to St. Joseph for the assistance
he rendered to them then. He who cannot find anyone to teach him how to
pray, let him take this glorious Saint for his guide, and he will not
lose his way". Life VI, 12
Ancient Prayer to St. Joseph
Short Prayer for the Dying
|Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so prompt, so strong, before
the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.
Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from
your Divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our
So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer
my thanksgiving and homage to the most Loving of Fathers.
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
St. Joseph, Patron of departed souls
pray for me.
O St Joseph, foster father of the Child Jesus
and true spouse
of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
pray for us and for the dying of this
(or this night).
(said each day in our Carmel)
|Joseph, Son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She will give birth to a son and you must call His name Jesus.
Pray for us, Holy Father, St. Joseph - that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Almighty God, at the beginnings of our salvation when Mary conceived your Son and brought him forth into the world,
you placed them under Joseph's watchful care.
May his prayer still help your Church to be an equally faithful guardian of your mysteries,
and a sign of Christ to humankind.
Catholic Encyclopedia: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08504a.htm
Catholic Online: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=4
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