Above: “The Holy Family (detail)” by Rafael Flores, 1857.
St. Junipero Serra was a Spanish Franciscan priest and Friar who founded a series of missions in what would later become the State of California. Throughout his life, Serra maintained a strong devotion to St. Joseph – offering a votive Mass to St. Joseph every Wednesday. In 1769, while attempting to found a mission in San Diego, there was a severe shortage of food and the mission might have to be abandoned before it even started. In preparation of the Feast day of St. Joseph on March 19, Serra and the Friars began a novena; on that day – the 19th of March, a ship arrived with the much-needed supplies.
On his journey to the City of Mexico he [St. Junipero Serra] was three times in imminent danger of perishing from excessive fatigue, starvation, and the inclemency of the weather, and was three times relieved by the charitable acts of a stranger whom he unhesitatingly believed to be St. Joseph descended from heaven to succor him and his companion. Some years later St. Joseph returned with all the members of the Holy Family, for the express purpose of procuring the weary friar a good night’s lodging!
Fitch, A.H., Junipero Serra: The Man and His Work. Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co., 1914, p. 22.
According to the authoritative The Life and Glories of Saint Joseph: Husband of Mary, Foster-Father of Jesus, and Patron of the Universal Church by Edward Healy Thompson:
“The Seraphic Order of St. Francis of Assisi was among the first to fix eyes of affectionate homage on [St.] Joseph. Every sympathy of their holy founder’s heart, who so loved Jesus and Mary, and was so great a worshipper of poverty and humility, must have drawn him to cherish and promote that devotion…”
An extraordinary apparition of St. Joseph to two Franciscan Friars:
Two Franciscan friars were sailing along the coast of Flanders, when a fearful storm arose which wrecked their vessel, having three hundred souls on board. In the terrible confusion that ensued the friars never lost their presence of mind; and sought to avoid a watery grave by both clinging to a substantial plank. Soon however they felt their strength giving way, and in the desperate emergency, they called upon their most beloved St. Joseph to save them. The bellows still rolled, their limbs became even more numb, the plank more slippery and insecure; their confidence in St. Joseph was put to the severest test. Then suddenly a beautiful and majestic young man stood between them…He told them to be of good cheer, and seemed to impart to their tired limbs new strength…[the] unsteady plank assumed the character of a boat in which he rowed them to shore. After they landed they knelt down, and raising their hands to Heaven praised God for their marvelous escape. Next they poured out their thanks to their kind rescuer and asked him his name.
“I,” he replied, “I am Joseph to whom you cried in your distress” At these words the hearts of the good Franciscans overflowed with rapture. St. Joseph further rewarded their confidence in him by telling them of the sorrows and joys, which he had experienced…adding, that he should ever love and help, those who piously meditated on these mysteries.
Annals of St. Joseph, Vol. X, No. I. De Pere: Archconfraternity of St. Joseph, 1898, p. 15.
St. John of the Cross was a priest who reformed the Carmelite Order, along with St. Teresa of Avila, in 16th century Spain. During the many difficulties she experienced while founding new convents, Teresa of Avila often trusted St. Joseph to come to her assistance for necessities both extraordinary and mundane. In her Autobiography, she wrote: “Once when I was in one of my difficulties, not knowing what to do, unable to pay the workmen, St. Joseph, my true father and lord, appeared to me, and gave me to understand that money would not be wanting, and I must hire the workmen. So I did, though I was penniless; and our Lord, in a way that filled those who heard of it with wonder, provided for me.”
Taken from a life of St. John of the Cross:
On their return, passing through a new square near the monastery, they met a man with a beautiful countenance…He approached them and asked: “Fathers, why does this Order have such a great devotion to St. Joseph?” They answered: “Because, our Holy Mother Teresa [St. Teresa of Avila] was very devoted to him. He helped her in all her foundations and she had received many favors from the Lord…so that all the houses which she founded have been placed under the patronage of St. Joseph.”
“And you will receive many more favors.” Said the mysterious person. “Look at me Reverend Fathers and maintain a deep devotion to this Saint, for nothing that you ask him will fail to be granted.”
Suddenly, the stranger disappeared. On arriving at the monastery, they described everything to St. John of the Cross, who said to them: “Didn’t you recognize him? You must know it was St. Joseph! Go and kneel down before him. But he did not come on your account but on mine, because I have not been as devoted to him as I should have been, but I will from now on.”
Crisonogo De Jesus, Vida y Obras de San Juan de la Cruz. Madrid: BAC, 1972, pp. 107-111.
Ite Ad Joseph. “Go To Joseph.”
No matter what you are struggling with: if its your health, your personal life, relationships, addictions, or your faith – turn to St. Joseph. As he courageously and swiftly saved the lives of Jesus and Our Lady, he will never fail to come to your aid. Daily, say this prayer:
O Saint Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.
O Saint Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most Loving of Fathers.
O Saint Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss his fine head for me and ask him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath.
Saint Joseph, Patron of departed souls – pray for me. (Mention your intention) Amen.