Saint Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and foster father of our Blessed Lord, was descended from the royal house of David. He was a lowly village carpenter of Nazareth who among all men of the world was the one chosen by God to be the husband and protector of the Virgin Mary and of Jesus Christ. To his loving care was entrusted the childhood and youth of the redeemer of the world.
After the mother of God, no one was ever so gifted and adorned with natural and supernatural virtues as was Saint Joseph. Through purity of heart and chastity of life, in humility, patience, fortitude, gentleness and manliness of character, he reveals to us the perfect model of a true Christian.
Poor and obscure in this world's possessions and honors, he was rich in grace and merit and emanate before God in the nobility and beauty of holiness. Saint Joseph was the representative of the Eternal Father on earth, the divinely appointed head of the Holy Family, which was the beginning of the great family of God. On December 8, 1870 the Vicar of Jesus Christ, Pope Pius IX, proclaimed the foster father of Jesus as the patron saint of the universal church. Since that time his feast has been celebrated on March 19 as one of the high ranking celebrations. In some places it is observed as a holy day of obligation.
From his throne of glory in heaven, Saint Joseph watches over and protects the church and no one whoever called on him in need ever calls in vain. His patronage extends over the Mystical Body of Christ, over the christian family, the christian schools and all individuals who, in their need, appeal to his charity and powerful intercession, especially in the hour of death; for he who, when dying, may well be trusted to obtain for us the mercy of God and the grace of a peaceful and holy death.
Many activities are scheduled, including the very unique one called the Saint Joseph's Table. This ancient tradition goes back to the Middle Ages. At that time there was an exceptionally severe drought in Sicily. No rain fell for an extended period of time, no crops would grow and countless people died of famine. The peasants prayed to God for rain, and they also prayed to Saint Joseph to intercede with God on their behalf. They promised that if God caused it to rain, they would have a special feast honoring God and Saint Joseph.
By miracle, the rains came and the crops were planted. With the harvest, the people prepared a feast of foods from their crops. This has become known as the Tavola di San Giuseppe. Through the centuries, people who have prayed for and been granted a favor use this festivity to show their thanks. The "favor" requested must not be for personal gain or benefit. Some common requests are the safe return of a loved one from a war (very common request during World War II), or that a loved one will be cured and survive from a serious, life threatening illness or accident.
The Seven Sorrows of Saint Joseph
1. The doubts of St. Joseph (Matthew 1:19)
2. The poverty of Jesus' birth (Luke 2:7)
3. The Circumcision (Luke 2:21)
4. The prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:34)
5. The flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:14)
6. The return to Nazareth (Matthew 2:22)
7. The loss of the Child Jesus (Luke 2:45)
The Seven Joys of Saint Joseph
1. Told of the Incarnation (Matthew 1:20)
2. Angels adore the Infant Jesus (Luke 2:10-11)
3. Holy Name of Jesus (Matthew 1:25)
4. Effects of the Redemption (Luke 2:38)
5. Overthrow of the idols in Egypt (Isaiah 19:1)
6. Life with Jesus & Mary (Luke 2:39)
7. Jesus found in the temple (Luke 2:46)