Our Patron Saint
Our patron saint is St Joseph. St Joseph was a 1st-century Jewish man of Nazareth who was married to Mary, the mother of Jesus, and was the foster father of Our Lord.
St. Joseph’s Day takes place each year on March 19th, always during Lent and usually two days after St. Patrick’s Day. But who was Saint Joseph, and what are some facts about his life? And why do we celebrate St Joseph’s Day?
Who was Saint Joseph?
According to the Bible, Saint Joseph was chosen to be the husband of Mary. He was also the foster father of Jesus.
He is said to have been selected by God for this role because he could be trusted to watch over them.
What are some facts about Saint Joseph?
- Joseph was a carpenter.
- He worked hard to provide for his family.
- Although Joseph is referred to in the Bible, he doesn’t actually speak any words.
- He’s also known as Saint Joseph of Nazareth.
- Saint Joseph is the patron saint of many countries, including Mexico, Canada, Belgium, China, Korea and Austria.
- Saint Joseph was chosen to be a saint by Saint Teresa of Avila to watch over her order of the Carmelite Sisters.
- Joseph is associated with the symbol of the carpenter’s square to represent his trade.
- Joseph is also linked with the lily, which represents purity, and his marriage to Mary.
- Saint Joseph has special significance in Sicily, as people believe he prevented famine from ravaging the region in the Middle Ages.
What is Saint Joseph the patron saint of?
Saint Joseph is the patron saint of many things, such as fathers, pregnant mothers, immigrants, travellers, carpenters and working people.
What happens on St. Joseph’s Day?
- St. Joseph’s Day is celebrated in many different ways across the world. It’s also known as the Feast of Saint Joseph.
- The date is always the same, unlike Lent or Easter.
- The colour of the celebration for St Joseph’s Day is red.
- In Italy, St. Joseph’s Day is marked by holding a special mass. A vast array of items are brought to the altar of the church, such as flowers, candles, bread and limes. There are also foods that contain breadcrumbs, to represent the sawdust of Joseph’s trade.
- St Joseph’s Day is a special celebration in New Orleans because many Sicilians emigrated there in the 19th century. There are parades in the streets.
- In Spain, the emphasis is on Saint Joseph’s role as a father, with the day known as El Día del Padre (the Day of the Father). Children will cook for their father. As the festival is during Lent, the meals don’t have meat in them. People also go to church for mass.
- Eastern Orthodox churches will chant hymns in honour of Saint Joseph.
- In Poland, meat-free delicacies are prepared for the Feast of Saint Joseph, such as filled dumplings with cheese and potato (pierogi).
Why does Saint Joseph have two feast days?
As we know, the first feast day of Saint Joseph is on March 19th. This date was passed down through the years and formalised by Rome in the 15th century. It was officially added to the Roman calendar in 1621.
Some believe it’s the date of Joseph’s death, but there’s no written evidence.
However, in 1955, Pope Pius IX decided that there would be a second feast day for Saint Joseph. As he is known as the patron saint of workers, May 1st would be celebrated as the Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker.
This is particularly apt, as May 1st is also the date of International Workers’ Day.
Joseph understood the importance of work. He was a carpenter and a builder, and probably taught Jesus his trade. Through his work, Joseph honoured the Father in heaven and continued the act of creation. He lived with dignity.
What we know about the life of Saint Joseph is contained in the gospels of Saint Matthew and Saint Luke. He has become known as the “Just man”.
The name foster-father of Our Lord appears in local metrologies of the ninth and tenth centuries. The first church dedicated in his honour was in 1129 in Bologna. Pope Sixtus IV (1471-84) added the feast of Saint Joseph to the Roman Calendar. Pope Pius IX placed the whole Church under the Patronage of Saint Joseph in 1870.
In 1989, Pope John Paul II reflected deeply on the life and witness of Saint Joseph in Redemptoris Custos “Guardian of the Redeemer” (q.v).
Amongst the saints known to have had particular devotions to Saint Joseph are Saint Bernard, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint Gertrude, Saint Bridget of Sweden, Saint Alphonsus, and Saint Teresa of Avila.
As the Bible tells us, Saint Joseph was descended from the royal house of David. A village carpenter of Nazareth, he was chosen amongst all men to be the husband and protector of the Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ. To his loving care was entrusted the childhood and youth of the Redeemer of the world. He reveals to us the perfect model of Christianity through his purity of heart, patience, and fortitude.
Poor in worldly possessions, he was rich in grace. Devotion to Saint Joseph was fervent in the East from the early ages and has spread and increased. Today, Catholics of all nations honour him.
There are many stories about the miraculous intervention of Saint Joseph. One is a medieval account of how famine in Sicily ended after a Novena to Saint Joseph. A more recent story is of the mysterious “itinerant carpenter” who volunteered to build an architecturally unique spiral staircase in a convent chapel in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is as sound today as when it was first built and has never needed repair.
According to ancient tradition, Saint Joseph watches over and protects the Church. He is considered the model of the perfect Christian life and the patron of a happy death. His patronage extends over the Mystical Body of Christ, over the Christian family and schools, carpenters, fathers, labourers, and all individuals who appeal to his charity.
We pray for St Joseph every day at the end of our prayers.
Pray for us