Juan Sánchez Cotán
Here’s what happened to Saint Joseph and here’s what he did. He found out that his betrothed was pregnant. He was told not to doubt her but to accept that she was carrying a child who would change the world. He married Mary. He took her to Bethlehem to fulfil the requirements of the Census. He watched over his new child. He took his family into Egypt to preserve their safety.
He worked – as a carpenter or as a builder – to support his family. He took the family to Jerusalem to meet their religious obligations. He searched three days when Jesus got himself lost.
Joseph, often portrayed as an old man (although Fulton Sheen strongly disagrees with this!), a third wheel in the unity of Mother and Child, the humble provider, is in fact a model of the good father and the strong man. He trusts in God and obeys Him. He cares for his family. He protects his wife and his child. He is a good member of his tribe, his country, his faith. He works and he builds. He is steadfast when things seem against him. He sees things through. He is venerated and beloved for being a father to Christ and for the virtues he displays. As Saint Joseph the Worker, he is a humble man, an artisan, a man who uses his skill and his strength to care for his household.
In art, when Saint Joseph is portrayed with the Christchild as a baby or as a child, he is holding the baby, or holding the child’s hand, or working with the boy Jesus . He is tenderly looking at the child, whilst providing strength and protection. He often carries a sheaf of lilies – for “the just man shall blossom like the lily”. In legend, he was chosen as Mary’s husband because his staff bloomed with flowers.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.