St Joseph – the patron saint we need in this pandemic

James Martin SJ, editor at large of America and author of several books on prayer, spirituality and the saints, invites us to reconsider St Joseph, the foster father of Jesus.

Recently, Pope Francis announced an upcoming Year of St Joseph in honour of one of his favourite saints. With his apostolic letter Patris corde (‘With a father’s heart’), the Pope invited the universal Church to meditate on and pray for the patronage of the foster father of Jesus.

Joseph’s example and patronage come at the perfect time. At a time when a global pandemic has forced millions to live hidden away, isolated and alone, we can see Joseph as a model of the hidden life. We know, too, that Joseph died before Jesus’ public ministry. Mary’s husband was undoubtedly familiar with suffering. So we can see him as our patron, too, praying for us as he understands our struggles with illness.

But what do we know about our patron and companion?

Like many saints whose lineage can be traced back to the earliest days of the Church, very little is known of St Joseph, besides what we learn from the few lines written about him in the Gospels. He was of King David’s line and engaged to a young woman from Nazareth. Mary was found, quite unexpectedly, to be pregnant. But Joseph, ‘being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity’, as the Gospel of Matthew tells it, planned to dissolve his betrothal quietly (1.19). Even before Jesus was born, then, Joseph’s tender compassion and forgiving heart were on full display.

Login for more...