José de Ribera (January 12, 1591 – September 2, 1652) ("Lo Spagnoletto")
San José y el Niño Jesús / St Joseph and the Infant Jesus
Oil on canvas
126 x 100cm
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid
Saint Joseph holds a flowered staff.
According to apocryphal sources, suitors for the Virgin Mary’s hand were to present rods to the high priest of the Temple. When Joseph’s rod bloomed, he was identified as her betrothed.
He is accompanied by the Christ Child, who offers him a basket with carpentry tools, alluding to his step-father`s profession
In a Homily at the Shrine of St Joseph in Kalisz, Poland on 4 June 1997 Pope John Paul II said:
""O happy man, Saint Joseph!".
How glad I am to celebrate this Eucharistic Sacrifice in the Shrine of Saint Joseph! For it has a special place in the history of the Church and of the nation. While we listen to the Gospel which recounts for us the flight into Egypt, there come to mind the words contained in the liturgical preparation for Holy Mass:
"O happy man, Saint Joseph, whose privilege it was not only to see and hear that God whom many a king has longed to see, yet saw not, longed to hear, yet heard not (cf. Mt 13:17); but also to carry him in your arms and kiss him, to clothe him and watch over him!"
In this prayer Saint Joseph appears as the guardian of the Son of God. The prayer continues with the following petition:
"God, who has conferred upon us a royal priesthood, we pray to you to give us grace to minister at your holy altars with hearts as clean and lives as blameless as that blessed Joseph who was found to hold in his arms and with all reverence to carry your only-begotten Son, born of the Virgin Mary. Enable us this day to receive worthily the sacred Body and Blood of your Son, and fit us to win an everlasting reward in the world to come".
It is a beautiful prayer! I say it every day before Holy Mass and certainly many priests around the world do so.
Joseph, the husband of the Virgin Mary, the foster father of the Son of God, was not a priest, but shared in the common priesthood of the faithful. And since as father and guardian of Jesus he could hold him and carry him in his arms, priests turn to Saint Joseph with the fervent request to be able to celebrate the Eucharistic Sacrifice with the same veneration and the same love with which he carried out his mission as the foster father of the Son of God.
These words are very eloquent. The hands which touch the Eucharistic Body of Christ wish to ask from Saint Joseph the grace of a chastity and devotion equal to that which the holy carpenter of Nazareth showed to his adopted Son. And therefore it is fitting that in the itinerary of the pilgrimage connected with the Eucharistic Congress of Wrocław there is also this visit to the Shrine of Saint Joseph in Kalisz."
On 15th August 1989 Pope John Paul II published an Apostolic Exhortation on the Person and Mission of St Joseph in the Life of Christ and the Church Redemptoris Custos