“A record of the ancestry from which Jesus Christ, the son of David, son of Abraham, was born. Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac of Jacob, Jacob of Juda and his brethren… And king David was the father of Solomon, by her that had been the wife of Urias… And after the removal to Babylon, Jechonias was the father of Salathiel, Salathiel of Zorobabel, Zorobabel of Abiud, Abiud of Eliacim, Eliacim of Azor, Azor of Sadoc, Sadoc of Achim, Achim of Eliud, Eliud of Eleazar, Eleazar of Mathan, Mathan of Jacob, and Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary; it was of her that Jesus was born, who is called Christ.” – Gospel of S. Matthew, 1: 1-16
Our holy Patron, Saint Joseph, is the quiet man in the Gospel stories. He says not a word but is evident in his devotion to his wife and to the Child, whom he adopts as his own, so that Christ will later be called the Carpenter’s Son. He is, in the Nativity stories of both Saint Matthew and Saint Luke, a strong protector of the Lady and Child, and has often been called (for this reason) Protector of Holy Church, the body of Christ. Of the two geneologies given us by the Gospels, the one from S. Matthew’s Gospel (above) gives Joseph as son of Jacob, and both trace him to the famous messianic King David, most charismatic of the Hebrew kings. He was therefore native to David’s own town of Bethlehem, although he later settled with the family in Galilee, at Nazareth, to protect his family from the family of Herod the Great, an Idumaean who had assumed the title of king of Judaea. The Gospels of S. Matthew and S. Mark call Joseph a τέκτων, a workman who is both a carpenter and mason, and perhaps an engineer/mechanic.
Saint Joseph’s glory lies in his betrothal and marriage to her who would become the Mother of God. The Church still refers to him primarily as the Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Joseph is also referred to by the Evangelists as a just man, that is to say, a good and observant Jew, supporting his family by his work, and accompanying the holy Mother in her care of the child, as given by the mystery of the Finding in the Temple (Gospel of S. Luke, 2: 42-51). He is not mentioned again in the Gospels, and must have died at some point between this event and the Crucifixion of Christ, when Christ gave his Mother over to the care of the Apostle Saint John.
The cult of Saint Joseph was introduced from the Eastern Church into the Western by the Carmelite Fathers. The feast day was then imported into the liturgical calendar of the Dominicans and moved slowly through the dioceses of Western Europe. Among the supporters of the cult of Saint Joseph were Saint Vincent Ferrer (d. 1419) and Saint Bernadine of Siena (d. 1444). Under the pontificate of the Holy Father Sixtus IV (1471-84), the feast of Saint Joseph found its way into the Roman calendar on the 19th of March. The Holy Father Innocent VIII (1484-92) increased its solemnity and the Holy Father Gregory XV made it obligatory in 1621. In 1726, the Holy Father Benedict XIII inserted Saint Joseph’s name into the Litany of the Saints. Under the pontificate of the Holy Father Pius IX, who was greatly devoted himself to Saint Joseph, the feast was extended to the whole Church (1847). In a1870, Piux IX solemnly declared the Holy Patriarch Joseph to be patron of the Catholic Church and required that the feast day on the 19th of March be celebrated as a high solemnity. The modern popes have all sought to deepen the devotion of Catholics to Saint Joseph, with offices of prayer and litanies.