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An ancient legend of St. Joseph being chosen by God for the Blessed Virgin Mary’s spouse by a miracle like that of Aaron’s rod that budded

3 min • Digitized on February 15, 2022

From The Life and Glories of St. Joseph, in file "The Life and Glories of St. Joseph", page 123
By Edward Healy Thompson, M.A.

There is a general agreement among the Fathers and Doctors of the Church that Joseph was pointed out as the spouse of Mary by a marvellous sign from Heaven.

St. Epiphanius, to whom allusion has just been made, says that he was chosen by lot. Now, the lot, as used on such occasions, and accompanied by prayer, was considered by the Jews as equivalent to a Divine pronouncement; as we see, for instance, in the choice of an Apostle to fill the place of Judas.

St. Gregory Nazianzen also speaks of the priests having selected Joseph as husband and guardian for Mary by lot, over which the Holy Ghost presided.

In like manner, the aged Patriarch of Constantinople, St. Germanus, says that by a sign from God, and by the counsel of the priests, the lot was cast concerning the Virgin; and the great Chancellor of Paris and devout client of Mary, Gerson, declared, before all the Fathers assembled in council at Constance, that Joseph took a wife moved thereto by the Holy Spirit.

All speak alike upon this point; but none of them explain in what manner the lot was cast, or in what mode the Holy Spirit manifested His decision.

A very ancient tradition, however, supported by some Fathers and by many sacred writers, and resting also on popular belief, informs us that the high-priest, divinely inspired, renewed the proof to which Moses had recourse when it was question of the high-priesthood of Aaron; God saying to him: “Whomsoever of these I shall choose, his rod shall blossom”.

All the unmarried men of the race of David, and among them Joseph, being summoned to appear, the high-priest bade each of them bring a rod with his name inscribed upon it, and whosesoever’s rod should be found the next day to have blossomed, he it was who should be the spouse of Mary.

So it was done; and on the morrow, while the rods of all the rest had remained dry and unfruitful, that of Joseph had budded and blossomed, and borne leaves and beautiful flowers. At the same time, a white dove was seen to descend and light upon it.

The aspirants were all filled with grief and disappointment, and one of them in particular, it is said, a noble youth, possessing a rich patrimony, seeing his hopes deluded, broke his rod, and, refusing to give his affection to any one but Mary, retired to a grotto on Mount Carmel, where, among the disciples of Elias, he arrived at great sanctity, and built a chapel in honour of the most holy Virgin.

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