The Saints of the Basilica

Saint Joseph • Husband of Mary • Foster Father Of Jesus

Feast Day March 19
Submitted by Rita Tebbetts, Liturgy Commission

Representing the title Husband of Mary, St. Joseph is pictured in a window in Saint Mary Basilica in Natchez, Mississippi. He is holding the child Jesus for he is the guardian of the holy family and a lily signifying the virtues of chastity and purity.

Events following reveal Joseph's generous response to God's call; he demonstrates his humility, dedication, and obedience. When Mary was engaged to Joseph but was found to be with child, he suffered the anguish of a dilemma, but an angel in a dream ended all fear about taking Mary as his wife. Joseph accepted Mary as his wife, recognizing the will of God, understanding that it was through the power of the Holy Spirit that she had conceived the child. He then welcomed her into his home as his wife.

To comply with the decree of a census, Joseph and Mary went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem in Judea to register. (Luke 2: 1-5) While they were in Bethlehem, she gave birth to Jesus. On the 40th day Joseph and Mary took Jesus to Jerusalem for the Presentation in the temple to be consecrated to the lord. Then Joseph responded unquestioningly to another dream in which an angel of the Lord commanded, "Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt ... " The Flight into Egypt accomplished the divine concealment of the child to fulfill his role as head of the new Israel. (Matthew 2:13-15) While in Egypt, Joseph was once again visited by an angel in a dream and commanded to "Get up take the child and his mother and set out for the land of Israel. Those who had designs on the life of the child are dead." Obediently, he took Jesus and Mary and returned to Israel. Having been warned in a dream not to go back to Judea, Joseph went instead to settle in Nazareth; thereby what was said through the prophets was fulfilled.

When Jesus was twelve, Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem for the celebration of Passover as had been their custom every year. At the end of the feast, they were returning home thinking Jesus was in their party. Not knowing that he had remained behind, they continued the journey for a day, searching all the while among their relatives and acquaintances. Not finding Jesus, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. They found him on the third day of their search. He was sitting in the midst the teachers of the temple. Listening and answering questions, he astonished them. He explained to his parents “ … Did you not know I had to be in my Father’s house?”

Since it is believed that he died in the presence of Jesus and Mary, St. Joseph is patron of a happy death and the patron of the sick. He is a model for fathers and is also recognized as the patron saint of workers. Pope Pius IX declared him to be both patron and protector of the Catholic Church.

Submitted by Rita Tebbetts, Liturgy Commission

Saint Joseph Stain Glass Window
Saint Joseph (1886)
Memory of Parents of Joseph O'Brien
Stain glass window in St. Mary Basilica

St. Mary Basilica Coat of Arms