St. Joseph’s Mother

26 Jul

Today the universal Church celebrates the feast of Saints Joachim and Ann, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In discussing this feast at breakfast this morning, one of my children asked me the name of St. Joseph’s mother. What do we know about her?

Unfortunately, Scripture provides minimal information about St. Joseph. He first appears in the Infancy Narratives (Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2) as the husband of Mary, and is mentioned in subsequent passing references such as John 6:42: “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph?” By the time we come to Jesus’ public ministry, Joseph is out of the picture, and the Church generally believes that Joseph died prior to that time.

As for St. Joseph’s family background, the Gospel of Matthew says that Jacob was his father (Matthew 1:16). In the Gospel of Luke, however, Heli is listed as the father of Joseph (Luke 3:23). Through the centuries, Church Fathers and Scripture scholars have come up with different plausible theories to explain this apparent discrepancy in the Gospel accounts regarding Joseph’s father, but the fact remains that none of the accounts or other historical records identify St. Joseph’s mother for us.

Actually, there are relatively few individuals in the New Testament whose mother was identified for us. Often their lives are not recorded in Scripture or other early Christian sources until they get caught up in the mystery of Christ during their adult years.

Despite the paucity of historical information, St. Joseph is one of the most revered saints in the Church, and has the august title of being “patron of the universal Church.” One of the best magisterial sources for more information on St. Joseph is Pope John Paul II’s 1989 apostolic letter Guardian of the Redeemer (Redemptoris Custos).

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