St. Joseph, Husband of Mary

Betrothal of the Virgin and St Joseph Sebastian Lopez de Arteaga


March 19th, Feast Day of St Joseph

On March 19th, the Church celebrates St. Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He is one of CCL’s patron saints because he is a role model for husbands, fathers and anyone trying to live a chaste life.

There is a beautiful painting that hangs in the National Museum of Art in Mexico City from Sebastian Lopez de Arteaga that is called the Betrothal of the Virgin Mary. It is a rare image of St Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary. It makes one stop and reflect on their relationship.

A Holy Marriage

The marriage of the Virgin Mary and St Joseph was truly unique. They loved each other as husband and wife but remained celibate. This is a difficult concept for many of us to wrap our brains around. Was this necessary? If a married man and woman have sexual relations that reflect the promises they made in their wedding vows, it is a very good thing indeed! The Church proclaims this. So, why did Mary and St Joseph remain chaste throughout the course of their marriage?

God designed sexual union not only to bring the husband and wife closer together, but also as a means of growing in holiness. As foreign to our culture as that may sound, it’s true! The ultimate purpose of our vocation — whether married or celibate — is to grow in holiness, become closer to God and one day join him in Heaven. This is what a husband and wife are meant to help each other do. Sexual union, is a way for spouses to deepen their bond with each other and God. Husbands and wives love God through loving one another.

Lessons for Marriages Today

What makes the lives of Our Lady and St Joseph radically different from yours or mine? They lived in the physical presence of Jesus. Would it be necessary for Mary and Joseph to grow in holiness through physical intimacy with each other when they lived in communion with God every day? Catholic author and speaker Christopher West remarks that this would have been a “step backward” for St Joseph and Mary. Although their physical union would not have been bad or sinful, sex would not have served its purpose for Mary and St Joseph the way it does for other married couples.

They both gave their lives to God from the beginning of their marriage in the same way that priests and religious give their total gift-of-self through celibacy. The uniquely beautiful thing about the Virgin Mary and St Joseph’s relationship is that it shows the great dignity of both the vocation to marriage and religious life.

Thank you, St Joseph, for your prayers of intercession for CCL and our efforts to help couples live joyful marriages through NFP!