The Feast of St. Joseph honours the foster-father of Jesus, St. Joseph.
He is the patron saint of fathers, families, workers, and the Church.
His main feast falls on March 19.
The feast of St. Joseph the Worker falls on May 1.
Prayers: Feast of Saint Joseph Prayers
Joseph is a relatively minor figure in the New Testament. We do know a
few things about him from the canonical gospels. He was probably a
relatively old man when Jesus was born, since he does not appear in the
gospels during Jesus' ministry.
The non-canonical , dated to around the 2nd century attests to Joseph's advanced age.
The also asserts that Joseph was a widower, and had grown-up children from his previous marriage.
story is used by many of the early Church Fathers to explain Scriptural
references to Jesus' brothers, who would have been step-brothers, and
not biologically related.
Finally, we know from the Scriptures that
Joseph was a carpenter by trade, and a descendent of the Old Testament
St. Joseph was betrothed to a virgin named Mary,
and when she became pregnant without sexual intercourse with him, he
intended to divorce her secretly.
However, the angel of the Lord
appeared to him in a dream, telling him that Mary was pregnant by the
Holy Spirit, and that Joseph should take Mary as his wife.
angel also instructed Joseph to name the child Jesus. Joseph, being a
humble man, obeyed the angel and took Mary as his wife.
legends have grown-up about St. Joseph, and while non-canonical, and
historically suspect, they are interesting.
One legend suggests that the
high-priest Zechariah told Mary that he was instructed in a revelation
to bring together marriageable men and have each man leave his staff in
the temple overnight.
The husband chosen by God would be
revealed through a sign. In the morning, Joseph the Carpenter's staff
blossomed, while the other suitors' staffs did not. This was a sign that
Mary was to marry Joseph.
St. Joseph is a model of humility and
holiness, and is a model for fathers everywhere. He cared for the Son
of God, despite Jesus not being his own biological Son. His devotion to
Mary, despite his suspicions of her infidelity, and his willingness to
listen to the angel of God, demonstrate his humility.
is a popular patron saint. He is the patron saint of the universal
Church, a happy death, workers, carpenters, expecting mothers, families,
Devotion to St. Joseph developed slowly, more slowly than devotion to Mary.
The devotion seems to have begun in the East, with the apocryphal (4th-7th century) playing a major role in fostering the devotion. The Copts likely kept his feast as early as the 4th century.
one of the oldest Coptic calendars we possess, St. Joseph was
commemorated on July 20.
In later Greek calendars, he is remembered on
either December 25 or December 26.
In the West, devotion to Joseph
developed more slowly, with its earliest promoters being St. Bernardino
of Siena and John Gerson.
The theological foundations they set
paved the way for the establishment of the Feast of St. Joseph. St.
Teresa of Avila and St. Francis De Sales were also known for their
strong devotion to St. Joseph.
The feast of St. Joseph did not
enter the Western calendar until AD 1479. In 1714 Pope Clement XI
composed a special office for the feast, and in 1729 Pope Benedict XIII
inserted his name into the litany of the saints.
Pope Pius IX declared him patron of the universal Church in 1870.
1955 the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker was promulgated by Pope Pius
XII, observed on May 1.
This feast was added to the calendar on May 1st
to counter the Communist May Day celebration that day, by offering a
Christian view of labor, and prime example in the husband of Mary.
Feast of St. Joseph the Worker is not a holy day of obligation. In 1962
his name was added to the list of saints in the Roman Canon (the First
Many traditions and customs have
developed around St. Joseph and his feast day. March 19th has been a
traditional day to show hospitality in the Italian culture.
On this day,
all who come to the door are invited to dinner. The family table is
extended full-length, moved against the wall (like the Church altar),
and a statue of St. Joseph surrounded by flowers and candles is made the
After the guests have enjoyed the bounteous
feast (blessed by a priest prior to the meal), the guests leave so other
guests may enter. What is left is given to the poor.
On a variation of
this theme, a table is set up in the town square, and all families bring
After Mass, everyone comes and shares a meal, which consists of a
variety of foods, including bread baked in the shape of scepters and
Another popular custom associated with St. Joseph is
burying St. Joseph statues upside-down in order to sell one's home more
While there is nothing inherently wrong with burying a
saint statue, this practice should not be used superstitiously, but
simply viewed a process whereby one joins one's prayers with St. Joseph,
asking God to sell a home more quickly.
The statue is not magic.
Many people, to thank St. Joseph for his intercessions, will display the buried statue in their new home.