Go to Joseph!

Do you love St. Joseph?

I can tell you with absolute certainty that Jesus and Mary do.

Jesus loves him because St. Joseph faithfully served as his virginal father on earth. As his earthly, adoptive father, St. Joseph modeled all the virtues for his divine Son, teaching the Incarnate God how to be a man and make sacrifices. Jesus looked up to St. Joseph (see Lk 2:51-52). In fact, it was St. Joseph who saved Jesus by taking him to Egypt when Herod wanted to murder the newborn King. It is for this reason that St. Joseph is the only human person who has been given the title of “savior of the Savior.” Saint Joseph truly is the man closest to Christ. Even in eternity, Jesus perpetually shines his divine face on St. Joseph and responds to his every request and desire.

The Virgin Mary loves St. Joseph because he was her faithful, chaste, and virtuous husband. Saint Joseph treated his bride’s heart, soul, and body as a sacred shrine, set aside for the Lord and his purposes. Mary’s feminine heart always felt safe and secure in the strength, holiness, and calmness of her beloved St. Joseph. Along with his virginal bride, the first to bring the Messiah to the nations, St. Joseph is the second greatest human person in history because he, too, shared in the role of bringing Jesus to souls.

Many have often wondered, “If St. Joseph is so great, why are there no words from him recorded in the New Testament?” Perhaps the answer is found in the Old Testament wisdom literature, where we read the following: “He who has understanding spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit” (Prov 17:27). In a certain sense, the greatest statement that the inspired word of God could make about St. Joseph is the fact that God’s Son himself desired to call St. Joseph his father. What more could be said? Everything else that could be stated about the virginal father of Jesus would appear as a mere footnote in comparison.

Yet, while the New Testament doesn’t recount any of St. Joseph’s words, saints and popes throughout history have been inspired by the Holy Spirit to speak for him, and to praise the greatness of St. Joseph. In the early centuries of the Church, scholarly men such as St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. John Chrysostom, and St. John Damascene delighted in preaching about the greatness of the virginal father of Jesus. During the medieval and early modern period, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Francis de Sales, and St. Bernardine of Siena extolled the virtues of St. Joseph and implored all Christians to turn to him in filial supplication. In more modern times, Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, St. Joseph Marello, St. Peter Julian Eymard, St. Luigi Guanella, St. Josemaria Escriva, and St. Andre Bessette have all given tremendous testimony to the importance of having a devotion to St. Joseph.

Nonetheless, I believe that within the last century and a half, Heaven has clearly called us to increase our knowledge of and devotion to St. Joseph. One only has to consider the many significant events connected with St. Joseph that have taken place in the last 150 years to recognize this movement of the Holy Spirit:

  • 1868 – Blessed Jean-Joseph Lataste, OP, writes a letter to Blessed Pope Pius IX asking him to declare St. Joseph the “Universal Patron of the Church.”
  • 1870 – Blessed Pope Pius IX declares St. Joseph the “Universal Patron of the Church.”
  • 1871 – Founding of the Josephites by Cardinal Herbert A. Vaughan
  • 1878 – Founding of the Oblates of St. Joseph by St. Joseph Marello
  • 1879 – Apparitions at Knock, Ireland. Saint Joseph appears with the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. John the Apostle, and Jesus (appearing as the Lamb of God).
  • 1889 – Pope Leo XIII writes Quamquam Pluries, an encyclical letter on St. Joseph.
  • 1904 – Saint Andre Bessette constructs an oratory dedicated to St. Joseph in Montreal, Canada. It expands, is declared a minor basilica and finally is completed in 1967. Today, it is known as St. Joseph’s Oratory and is considered by many to be the preeminent international center of devotion to St. Joseph.
  • 1908 – Saint Luigi Guanella begins constructing a church dedicated to St. Joseph in Rome. It is completed and consecrated as a basilica in 1912.
  • 1914 – Saint Luigi Guanella founds the Pious Union of St. Joseph for the Salvation of the Dying.
  • 1917 – Apparitions at Fatima, Portugal. During the last apparition on October 13, St. Joseph appears holding the Child Jesus and blessing the world.
  • 1921 – Pope Benedict XV inserts the phrase “Blessed be St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse” into the Divine Praises.
  • 1947 – Spanish Discalced Carmelites found Estudios Josefinos, the first theological journal devoted to St. Joseph.
  • 1950s – The alleged apparitions of Our Lady of America given to Sr. Mary Ephrem greatly emphasize a renewed devotion to St. Joseph, and St. Joseph himself speaks to the visionary about this devotion.
  • 1955 – Venerable Pope Pius XII establishes the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, to be celebrated on May 1.
  • 1962 – Saint Pope John XXIII inserts St. Joseph’s name into the Canon of the Mass (Eucharistic Prayer I).
  • 1989 – Saint Pope John Paul II writes Redemptoris Custos, an encyclical letter on St. Joseph.
  • 2013 – Pope Francis, echoing and fulfilling the intentions of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, inserts the name of St. Joseph into all Eucharistic Prayers. He also consecrates Vatican City State to St. Joseph.

The Holy Spirit is definitely seeking to bring St. Joseph to our attention. In the past, saints have often lamented that St. Joseph is the “forgotten person of the earthly trinity,” referring to the tradition of understanding the Holy Family as an icon of the Trinity in Heaven. Saint Joseph is the earthly icon of God the Father; Jesus is the true Son of God; and the Blessed Virgin Mary is the icon of the Holy Spirit. It is true that St. Joseph is well known as the patron of a happy death, since he died in the arms of Jesus and Mary, but he is much more than that. He is our spiritual father! As such, he desires to lead us to Jesus, Mary, the Church, and growth in virtue.

During a time of great famine in the Old Testament, Pharaoh instructed the Egyptians to do the following to save themselves from starving: “Ite ad Ioseph et quidquid vobis dixerit facite,” that is, “Go to Joseph and do all that he shall say to you” (Gen 41:55). The patriarch Joseph was in charge of all the granaries in Egypt, which was known at that time as the bread basket of the world. In the New Testament, we have the new patriarch Joseph (“patriarch” means “father); he was the one chosen to bring the true bread of Heaven out of Egypt and feed the entire world. Through the New Testament bread basket of the world, that is, the Catholic Church, the Holy Spirit is speaking to people today and telling them, “Ite ad Ioseph! Go to Joseph!”

Click image to preview Fr. Calloway’s latest book.

The desire to lead people closer to St. Joseph is the reason I have published a new book titled St. Joseph Gems: Daily Wisdom on our Spiritual FatherLike the other books I have put together (Marian Gems: Daily Wisdom on Our Lady and Rosary Gems: Daily Wisdom on the Holy Rosary), this book offers a way of knowing more about St. Joseph by offering a daily quote about him from a saint, blessed, or pope. By coming to know more about St. Joseph, we can come to love him more and learn to turn to him more frequently in our spiritual lives.

We need St. Joseph today. I pray you come to know and love St. Joseph, your spiritual father, more and more.

         Ite ad Ioseph!

Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC


Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, has been a priest for 15 years and currently serves as Vicar Provincial and Vocation Director for the Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception.  He is the author of eleven books, a popular speaker at conferences, and frequently leads pilgrimages to Marian shrines around the world. To find out more about his books, pilgrimages, and to order St. Joseph Gems: Daily Wisdom on our Spiritual Father, go to www.fathercalloway.com

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  • kjf

    Growing up in the 80s, St Joseph did seem like a side note. With my 2 little girls i bring them almost daily, not just to The Real Presence and to Mary, but also to venerate St Joseph, Mary’s Most Chaste Spouse and protector of the Child Jesus. Hopefully they grow up with a strong trust in the man God trusted with His son. Besides, St Joesph was a better father thab I could ever be.

  • That beautiful wayside shrine to St Joseph is to be found near the Benedictine monastery at Le Barroux, Provence

  • Timothy McDonnell

    I love St.Joseph and always have since childhood. I was raised in the 80’s and we didn’t hear much about him, but my Mom always spoke to us about him. I had a dream a short while ago that after Christ died, the first person from “limbo” to enter Heaven in all human history was Joseph. Of course Mary hadn’t been assumed into Heaven yet, so I believe this is true and was an inspired dream.

  • Michael J. Lichens

    I love wayside shrines. Thanks for sharing!

  • Fvb

    Where may i find the picture of St. Jospeh and baby Jesuse that appears at the top of the article? I am director at a pregnancy resource center and would love to post it in our offices.
    Thank you

  • utahagen

    Google the Thirty Day Prayer to St Joseph. I’ve seen this powerful prayer work many miracles. The son of a friend of mine is mentally ill and had been missing — actually missing — for weeks. We prayed the 30 Day Prayer to St. Joseph and the police found him, alive and safe, on Day 30. That is just one of many miracles. Go to St. Joe.

  • Riki


    Joseph, humble, silent vase

    of splendor and abundant grace

    protector, defender of our Lord

    as a strong and flaming sword

    Joseph, most just, most pure

    what no man could ever ensure

    guardian of the holy house

    stronghold of your Holy Spouse

    Joseph, treasurer of the Heavenly King

    for Whom the angels in adoration sing

    so underestimated in the world’s eyes

    with whom you never did compromise

    Joseph, without titles behind your name

    you never sought perishable fame

    you were an honest simple worker

    envied and attacked by the evil lurker

    Joseph, example of husband and father

    you never thought of yourself, but rather

    in obedience to God, with love and humility

    you shouldered the caring responsibility

    Joseph, assist us in our daily tasks

    never forsake us nor the one who asks

    to be non-judgmental and steadfast

    to obtain those virtues of yours at last.

    Rita Biesemans written March 19, 2011