But what do we know about this gentle man who was entrusted with the care of the Son of God?
Not much. We know a little about him from the Gospel of Matthew and that of Luke.
He was just, yet compassionate. When, during the period of his betrothal to Mary, he discovered her to be pregnant, he did not want her to face humiliation and even stoning; so he determined to quietly divorce her.
He was poor. When he went with Mary and the infant Jesus to the Temple, he offered a gift of turtle doves—the gift of a man who could not afford a lamb.
He was a carpenter, a working man. We know this because in the gospel of Matthew the Nazarenes, who refused to acknowledge Jesus’ leadership and authority, asked, “Is not this the carpenter’s son?”
He was a man of deep faith. When instructed by the angel to take Mary as his wife, he obeyed; he obeyed, too, when instructed to take Mary and Jesus and escape to Egypt.
Because he was not present with Mary at the Cross, we know that he had died earlier. Although scripture does not explain what happened to him, we imagine him dying with Mary and Jesus at his side. For this reason, he is the patron saint of the dying.
He is also the patron of the universal Church, fathers, carpenters, and social justice.
Traditional Novena Prayer to St. Joseph
Saint Joseph whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the Throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.
Oh Saint Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son, all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord, so that having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of fathers.
Oh Saint Joseph, I never weary of contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me, and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath.
Saint Joseph, Patron of the departing souls, pray for us. Amen.