Reasonable, historical, and Biblical guesses as to the details of the marriage ceremony of St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary

March 2, 2022 • 4 min

From The Life and Glories of St. Joseph, page 142
By Edward Healy Thompson, M.A.

CHAPTER XXI.

THE ESPOUSALS OF MARY AND JOSEPH.

The nuptials of Mary and Joseph were solemnised in the Temple, and, after receiving the sacerdotal blessing, the newly-married couple would be accompanied by their relatives and friends, walking in procession with music and rejoicing and the waving of myrtle and palm-branches, to their abode, the house which Joachim and Anne had occupied near the Probatic Pool.

Perhaps—for this was a Jewish custom where it was designed to show honour—some of these branches would be cast under the feet of the Blessed Virgin and her spouse. Mary was to have her one scene of honour and pomp upon earth, as her Divine Son was to have His in His descent from the Mount of Olives on the road to His Passion, when He was to espouse to Himself the Church upon the Cross of Calvary.

The friends of the bridegroom and the bride would on their arrival partake of the marriage-feast which had been prepared for them, an instance of which practice we see in the marriage at Cana in Galilee, where the Mother of Jesus was present, to which our Lord, as well as His disciples, was invited, and which He honoured with His presence and first public miracle.

After the feast, and as the sun went down, the guests would depart, leaving the married pair alone with God and with their good angels, who, we may piously believe, were now called to witness the interchange of those secret words which revealed the hitherto hidden vows, of the existence of which, however, we have reason to be well persuaded that the Holy Spirit had already interiorly assured them.

It was now, then, that, according to the opinion of Fathers and Doctors, Mary and Joseph, while remaining bound together by the contract and tie of matrimony, renewed in a solemn and absolute form their respective vows of perpetual virginity. And thus, while continuing in the face of the law and in verity husband and wife, they were to live together as brother and sister, innocent and immaculate, like the angels of God in Heaven.

They might be compared to a rose and a lily growing together in one vase. It was, indeed, an incomparable marriage, uniting all that is sweet and pure in the two estates; so that the devout servant of Mary and Joseph, John Gerson, speaking before the Council of Constance of this most pure marriage, gave expression to his ecstasy, when contemplating it, by exclaiming that in them virginity had espoused itself. Nothing in this marriage but what was heavenly, nothing savouring of earth.

Holy doctors (as has been already observed) have interpreted the “sealed book” spoken of by Isaias the prophet, [xxix. 11.] which should be delivered to one that is learned, as the Blessed Virgin, who is also called “a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed up,” [Canticles iv. 12.] so that no foot of man should enter the former or profane hand invade the waters of the latter, and that it was to Joseph that this book was given.

And when was it given? No doubt it was on the solemn day of his espousals with Mary that Joseph had this mystical book committed into his keeping. The book was the symbol of Mary’s virginity, and it was given to the most pure Joseph in order that he might guard it in his virginal hands. And Joseph, knowing before his espousals that the Blessed Virgin had consecrated her virginity to God, understood the mystery of the sealed book, and received it into his custody only to respect and to guard it.

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