Joseph’s rare virtues and holiness probably led the authorities to betroth him to Mary

February 13, 2022 • 3 min

From The Life and Glories of St. Joseph, page 121
By Edward Healy Thompson, M.A.

We may readily believe that among the young men of her kindred there must have been an eager competition for the hand of the daughter of Joachim and Anne, for Mary’s perfections and endowments of every kind cannot, notwithstanding her secluded life, have remained concealed; and among these aspirants would be many who were rich, accomplished, and occupying honourable situations.

Joseph was her nearest of kin, being, as seems most probable, nephew to her mother and nearly related to her also through Joachim, her father. Moreover, it is impossible to imagine that she could have been personally unknown to him. He may have seen this blessed infant in her cradle and witnessed her Presentation in the Temple; neither is it easy to conceive that his piety and sweetness of disposition, coupled with his close relationship, had not endeared him to her holy parents.

From humility and the love of poverty, more than from any absolute necessity, he, the lineal descendant of kings, had subjected himself to the daily toil of a mechanic, which, although it in no way degraded him in the eyes of true Hebrews, placed him in a position of some social inferiority.

Such was the life he led at the time when it was in contemplation to bestow upon him the greatest honour which any man ever received; separated from the surrounding world, in a state of total renunciation and contempt of created things, retired and unnoticed, with no earthly desire but to remain in his obscurity, forgotten of all, and known only to God.

Far, therefore, from aspiring to an alliance with Mary, or entertaining any solicitude on the subject, he would, apart from his vow of virginity, by which he had abandoned all thoughts of the married state, have deemed himself utterly unworthy of her. Joseph, then, was certainly not of the number of the claimants.

Yet, notwithstanding his desire to eclipse himself, he had not been able so far to conceal his high sanctity and rare merits as to escape the observation of the priests who had the guardianship of the Virgin of Nazareth; at least we seem irresistibly led to this conclusion, since it was upon him that their choice fell; on him, the poor artisan, in preference to many who must have possessed higher worldly recommendations, and in spite of the exalted estimation in which they held the heavenly-gifted maiden, their ward, an estimation which laid upon them the responsibility of procuring for her the most suitable and most honourable marriage possible.

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