Theories about when Joseph and Mary left Jerusalem after their marriage

March 10, 2022 • 4 min

#Mary #Joseph

From The Life and Glories of St. Joseph, page 152
By Edward Healy Thompson, M.A.

CHAPTER XXII.

LIFE AT NAZARETH.

Hitherto we have been considering Joseph as a young man, and living alone; we have now to regard him as he was in maturer years, and in the company of the Blessed Virgin, to which was soon to be added the company of the Son of God Himself, Christ Jesus.

Up to this period the virtues of Joseph, although excellent and sublime, were private and hidden virtues, known only to the narrow circle in which he abode, but henceforward those virtues are to emerge into the light of day, and at length to become known to the uttermost parts of the earth below and the heaven above.

From constant association with Jesus, and Mary, the virtues of Joseph acquired so brilliant and dazzling a lustre as to be surpassed only by the sovereign splendours of the virtues of Jesus and Mary. Joseph, become the foster-father and guardian of Jesus, the spouse and protector of Mary, becomes, in consequence, the guardian and patron of the whole Church.

We left the holy spouses at Jerusalem, in their abode near the Probatic Pool. There, however, they did not long remain,1 but went to establish themselves in Nazareth, where the Blessed Virgin owned a small house, inherited from her parents, along with some slender possessions in Sephora and in Carmel.

What were the reasons which induced their removal we cannot know for certain. No doubt they sought counsel of God in prayer before taking this step, to which they may have been prompted by the painful feelings which the degeneracy of the Holy City excited in them, as well as by the rise of the malicious sects of Herodians, Sadducees, and Pharisees, and the spread of their false corrupting doctrines, not to speak of the cruel jealousy of Herod, which every day increased, displaying itself, not against his subjects only, but against his own wife and children, whom he mercilessly put to death. Mary and Joseph, being of the house and family of David, might, therefore, have just cause to dread becoming in some way the objects of his malevolent suspicions.

1 It would appear, from the view taken by Canon Vitali, that Mary and Joseph remained some time at Jerusalem, as though uncertain at first whether they would not reside there, and after their removal spent the following winter months at Nazareth. If their marriage was solemnised on the 23rd of January—and he expressly states his belief that it was so, the Betrothal having taken place, according to him, in the previous November—this would remove the Annunciation to more than a year after their nuptials; a supposition, we imagine, quite at variance with the general belief. Maria d’Agreda says that the Annunciation was six months after the marriage; in which case the Espousals on the 23rd of January would have been the Betrothal, the marriage itself, according to her, being celebrated in the September following, the month of the Blessed Virgin’s Nativity. Having, however, laid down to ourselves the rule not to refer either for dates, or for the sequence of events, or any other matter of historical importance, to the revelations of saints, but simply, from time to time, to enrich and supplement the narrative with the pictures of what they saw in vision and have made known to us for our spiritual edification, we shall dismiss her view without discussion. That of Canon Vitali, we must own, seems to us scarcely admissible; and, as he alleges no authority whatever in its favour, we have felt at liberty to disregard it. If Mary and Joseph left Jerusalem for Nazareth immediately, or almost immediately, after their marriage, that would allow the space of two months to elapse between their nuptials and the Annunciation, a view more agreeable, we believe, to Catholic feeling and tradition.

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