Although today’s feast day is no longer in the liturgical calendar of the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, for many years, first beginning on October 22, 1517 and approved by Pope Leo X, the Espousal of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Saint Joseph was celebrated by many as the day that Our Lady and Saint Joseph were espoused together as a couple.
According to some of the light research I conducted last night, the Espousal of the Blessed Virgin Mary began when she was a young woman at the time prepared for her marriage. As tradition tells us, a few men came and to seek her hand in marriage, but all were rejected. She would be arranged to a simple and humble craftsman (worked with wood and stone) – we know this man today as Saint Joseph. He was known to be a just man of God, however, it seems he lacked the fortitude to ask for Mary’s hand. In the end, God’s Divine Providence and timing placed them together.
Mary was very happy to receive St. Joseph as her spouse. As we all know, she contained an incredible and blessed secret that was deep in her heart. As tradition also teaches us, as do the Early Church Fathers such as St. Augustine of Hippo and St. Gregory of Nyssa, Mary as a young girl made a vow of virginity in the temple (see my book, Understanding Catholic Teaching on the Blessed Virgin Mary, pages 42-45). We also believe that Mary prayed for a holy man who would respect her vow and protect her virginity.
The Catholic Church believes and teaches that the marriage of Mary and St. Joseph was real. Each of them accepted the other as spouse, which included all of the mutual rights. I say in my aforementioned book, “The essence of marriage is the lifetime vow of fidelity to Christ. According to canon law, consent (the vows) is what makes it a marriage. The gift of body is the expression of the vow. Mary and Joseph are truly married because they give themselves as total gift to one another, but not bodily” (page 48).
The marriage of Mary and St. Joseph has served as a model for Christian marriages since their own marriage endured trials. We read in the Sacred Scriptures about the Annunciation (Lk 1:26-31) and the worries that St. Joseph analyzes on how to send her away quietly (Mt 1:18-19). However, as we know, God intervened by sending an angel to St. Joseph in a dream to reassure him that Mary’s virginity was intact and that the child she was carrying was of heavenly origin (Mt. 1:20-21).
Being the just, noble, and obedient man that he was, St. Joseph witnessed for himself the plan of God in his life and in the life of his spouse. He realized how faithful Mary truly was to not only God, but to him as well.
To learn more about the history of the feast, I would encourage you to read the Catholic Encyclopedia page on New Advent. For those who are even more daring, you can read St. Thomas Aquinas’ questioning from the Summa Theologica.
As we remember this day…
Let us pray for the many holy and faithful Catholic marriages that are producing great fruit in the Church.
Let us pray for those who may be struggling in their marriages – may Our Lady and St. Joseph intercede on behalf of their trials.
Let us pray for those Catholics that are not married in the Church – those who are unaware that their marriages are not valid – pray that they, through the intercession of Mary and St. Joseph will come to be in full communion again and Convalidate their secular marriage.
Let us pray for those couples preparing to enter the Sacrament of Matrimony in the days and month ahead.
O Mary, Perpetual Virgin…Pray for Us
Saint Joseph…Pray for Us
Hi, Tom-I enjoy your blog so much. I have grown tremendously in my love for Mary!Could you tell me how I could get a copy of your book in today’s blog? I would prefer having a hard copy instead of Kindle …Thank you and God bless you!Sherri ParisSent from XFINITY Connect Mobile App
Hi Sherri – I looked to see if there was a hard copy for sale online last night – couldn’t find one. I have hard copies, but need to find a way to send them to people. Once I figure it out, I will let you know.
Tom, The link to your book only has Kindle as an option. Are there options for either a hard copy, or iBook?
The parish has hard copies for sale.