The Holy Joseph

Joseph's fatherhood is as mysterious as Mary's motherhood. He is not only placed in the shadow of Mary but is often entirely overlooked. However, it is Joseph's genealogy – and not Mary's – that the gospels include as proof of Jesus' descent from King David, the tribe of Judah and Abraham (Matthew 1 and Luke 3). One might think that Joseph's ancestry should be irrelevant since he is not Jesus' biological father, but this only highlights the importance ascribed to him as the adoptive father of Jesus.

Foto: Håkan Bengtsson

None the less, Joseph disappears early from the Gospel stories. He is, for instance, not mentioned at the wedding in Cana, where Mary plays such an important role (John 2:1-12). In any case, he was no longer alive when Jesus died, since Jesus asked John to take care of Mary (John 19:25-27). According to Christian tradition, Joseph was old when he met Mary, as portrayed in the icon. Traditionally he wears a green dress, and in his hands he holds the two sacrificial pigeons. Like Mary and the saints his head is surrounded by a halo and the inscription "The Holy Joseph" in Greek.