|Saint Joseph, Father of
St. Joseph is not mentioned in the gospels of John and Mark. Luke mentions him by name only in the genealogy of Jesus and once in the narrative of Jesus' birth. Most of the material used in the images is from the Gospel of Matthew and the second-century Protevangelium of James. The latter explains how St. Joseph and Mary came to be betrothed and provides a detailed account of what is sometimes called St. Joseph's Trouble -- the dilemma he faces when he finds that Mary is with child.
Briefly, in the Protevangelium an angel tells the priests to call all the widowers to come to the Temple with their rods; there will then be a sign to show which of the widowers should be betrothed to Mary. St. Joseph is chosen when a dove flies out of his rod. A millenium later, the Golden Legend tells essentially the same story but with a flower growing out of the rod and a dove alighting on it; the Legend also ties this episode to Isaiah 11:1, "And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root." This episode is sometimes represented in medieval art (example).
St. Joseph is also represented, of course, in images of episodes from scripture: the "Annunciation to St. Joseph" (example), the Nativity, the Adoration of the Magi, the Flight into Egypt, the Circumcision, and the Presentation in the Temple. He is also seen in some images of the Annunciation (example).
In the West, St. Joseph does not appear in portraits until the 16th century, when his cult was promoted by St. Teresa of Avila and by the Jesuits. Portraits and statues represent him with the flowering rod and the child Jesus, as at left, or with only the child (example). During this period there develops a narrative type in which he is on his deathbed, with a mourning Mary on the far side of the bed and a comforting Christ on the viewer's side (example).
Feast day: No fixed feast day until 1870. March 19 thereafter. Also, in 1955 May 1 was declared the feast of "St. Joseph the Worker."
At left, a santo in the church of San Juan Teitipac, Oaxaca
A santo from Pamplona
A triptych in Rome
In a Roman church, paintings of Joseph's betrothal and of Joseph holding the infant Jesus
A painting of Joseph giving the lily stalk to SS. Anthony of Padua and Louis Bertrand
Attending the prayers of the Doge of Venice, 1581-4
The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew (cached)
The History of Joseph the Carpenter (cached)
The Gospel of Thomas (cached)
The Gospel of the Nativity of Mary (cached)
Golden Legend #131 (Nativity of Mary): html or pdf