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Joseph the Betrothed

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Joseph the Betrothed was the foster-father of Jesus Christ, according to the New Testament (Matt. 1:16; Luke 3:23). Not much is known of Joseph except that he was "of the House of David" and lived in the town of Nazareth. The Gospels describe him as a carpenter. His date of death is unknown, though he was still living when Jesus was 12 years old. He is the patron saint of workers and his feast day (see St. Joseph's Day) is celebrated on March 19.

He was betrothed to the Virgin Mary at the time that Mary conceived Jesus. Luke says that he lived at Nazareth in Galilee (Luke 2:4); however, according to Matthew, it was only after the return from Egypt that he settled in Nazareth (Matt. 2:23). He is called a "just man." He was by trade a carpenter (Matt. 13:55). He is last mentioned in connection with the journey to Jerusalem, when Jesus was twelve years old. It is probable that he died before Jesus entered on his public ministry. This is concluded from the fact that Mary only was present at the marriage feast in Cana of Galilee. His name does not appear in connection with the scenes of the crucifixion along with that of Mary (q.v.), John 19:25. The fact that Jesus commended Mary to the care of John the Evangelist while he was hanging on the cross has been historically interpreted to also suggest that Joseph had died by that time, and that Joseph and Mary did not have any other children who might care for Mary.

He is the patron saint of workers and his feast day is celebrated on March 19. In the Orthodox Church, the Feast of Saint Joseph falls on the Sunday after Christmas. In many icons of the Nativity, Joseph is shown being tempted by the Devil (depicted as an old man with furled wings) to break off his betrothal, and resisting that temptation.

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