Few things are actually known about Saint Joseph. The little we do comes primarily from the Gospels and the Apocryphal texts. Unfortunately, they do not agree on many aspects of his life.
Though both sets of texts agree that he was the adoptive father of Jesus, the Gospels make Joseph out to be merely a carpenter who taught him his trade. The Apocryphal texts, on the other hand, make him out to be a man of priestly and royal descent. Depending which is correct, Saint Joseph was either a common labourer or a teacher and leader of a sect.
The Gospels say he married Mary in his mid-thirties and waited to have sex with her until after Jesus was born due to the immaculate conception. He later fathered three children with her, two sons and a daughter. According to the Apocryphal writings, Joseph’s marriage to Mary was his second and he brought along four sons and two daughters to form a new family after his wife of 52 years passed away.
Because of his loving and compassionate protection of Mary when even her dearest friends turned on her, Joseph was highly esteemed. Though he passed away at 111, legends about his actions in the afterlife continued. One of my favourites tells of how he built a ladder, so that any who were refused entrance to heaven by Saint Peter could sneak in through a window.
Those who venerate Saint Joseph say he can grant literally any request. Here are just a few of the things he is most commonly petitioned for:
- Any parental or home matter
- To correct situations where the words of others have brought pain and humiliation into existence
- To bring about a peaceful death
- To help sell or acquire a house
Joseph was either a carpenter who taught Jesus his trade when he became his adoptive father or a priest who may have been of royal descent