Bohol Fiestas of Saint Joseph

Feast day: March 19, May 1

Patron of the Universal Church

Saint Joseph, the Worker, the patron saint of Tagbilaran City, is also known in scripture as Joseph “of the House of David, Joseph the Betrothed and Joseph of Nazareth. He is venerated as a saint within the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Anglican churches.

Basing on scripture alone, he is known to be a carpenter (Matthew 13:55) and not rich for he was only able to offer the sacrifice of two turtledoves or a pair of pigeons during the presentation of Jesus, allowed only for those who could not afford a lamb (Luke 2:24).

Although poor, Joseph came from a royal lineage and is a descendant of David, the greatest king of Israel (Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38). Indeed the angel who first tells Joseph about Jesus greets him as "son of David," a royal title used also for Jesus. His date of birth and death is not clear in the canonical gospels, however, Christian tradition represent Mary as a widow during her son’s ministry. His father was called Jacob as related in the genealogy in the gospel of Matthew.

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The gospels allude to Joseph’s betrothal to Mary, which made her his wife according to the Jewish law. They did not live together immediately after the betrothal for the wedding rite (which was known as the “home taking”) was scheduled for another date. This “home taking” is the legal Jewish ceremony permitting the couple to begin conjugal relations.

Before the “home taking” took place, Joseph observed Mary to be with child. Knowing the child was not his, he planned to divorce her quietly and not expose her to shame or cruelty (Matthew 1:19-25). The Jewish women at that time are stoned to death if caught committing adulterous acts yet Joseph cannot find it in his heart to condemn Mary to this cruel fate.

In a dream, Joseph was told by “an angel of the Lord” to take Mary as his wife. He was told by the angel that what she is conceiving is of the Holy Ghost that she will bore a son, and he shall name him Jesus.

(Luke 2:1-7) relates the journey of Joseph with the pregnant Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem (the city of David) because he was of the house and lineage of David; per the decree of Caesar Augustus that all shall be taxed in his own city. Thus Jesus was born in Bethlehem, wrapped in swaddling clothes with a manger as his bed for they were not able to find a room anywhere in the city.

(Luke 2:15-16) Joseph was mentioned in this part of the gospel of St. Luke when a group of shepherds visited them at the prodding of an angel. The shepherds also saw a multitude of angels singing glory and praises to God, announcing the good news of Jesus birth.

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(Luke 2:33) Joseph witnessed and heard the prophecy of Simeon, an old man promised by God that he will not die unless he will see the Son of God. Simeon took Jesus in his arms, cried and blessed God while Joseph and Mary marvelled at his words.

(Matthew 2:13-15) Again Joseph took center stage at this part of the gospels. An angel appeared to him in a dream telling him to leave with Mary and Jesus and flee into Egypt for Herod was seeking to destroy the child.

(Matthew 2:19-23) At the death of Herod, an angel again appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to go back to the land of Israel. He immediately obeyed and brought Mary and Jesus back to Israel. Yet, Archelaus, Herod’s son was reigning in Judea. Fearing for Jesus’ life, he brought Mary and Jesus to Nazareth and settled there.

Years passed by. The Holy Family went to Jerusalem every year for the feast of the Passover. When Jesus was twelve years old, they again went to Jerusalem to observe the feast. After fulfilling the rites, Joseph and Mary went back to Nazareth thinking all the while that Jesus was with the group. (Luke 2:43)

After this Passover account, Joseph’s presence was not again felt nor heard all throughout the gospels except during Jesus’ public ministry when the people of Nazareth say of Jesus, “Is this not the son of Joseph?” (Luke 4:22) Because of this, many historians believe Joseph probably had died before Jesus entered public ministry.

Related topic: Joseph’s Attributes


The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
Translated from the Latin Vulgate by Sinag-tala Publishers, Inc., Manila

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