An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Joseph, Saint

(The husband of Mary. A pious Jew, a carpenter from Nazareth, and a descendant of King David, Joseph is also known as the “Guardian of Our Lord.” Joseph was faced with an awkward situation when he learned that his betrothed wife was pregnant, and he knew he was not the father. He made plans to divorce her quietly, but when an angel of God came to him in a dream and revealed God's plans for him, Joseph took Mary as his wife without further hesitation. He traveled with Mary to Bethlehem, assumed legal responsibility for the child Jesus, and saw that the religious obligations were met through the circumcision of the child and the purification of the mother. Because of the silence of the gospels, and because Jesus entrusted Mary to the care of John, it is generally believed that Joseph died a natural death after the visit to Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve, but before the baptism of Jesus when he was thirty. Some believe that Joseph was much older than Mary. Joseph is considered the patron saint of the working person. His life is commemorated on Mar. 19 in the Episcopal calendar of the church year.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.