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Saint of the Day - Saint Joseph (March 19)

We all know about Saint Joseph - that he is the foster father of Jesus, that he protected Jesus and Mary, that he taught Jesus to be a carpenter. Today, I want to talk about some of the apparitions and miracles attributed to Saint Joseph.

Image of Saint Joseph and the Baby Jesus retrieved from and used as being in the public domain.

The Loretto Staircase

Image of the Loretto Staircase from and used as being in the public domain.

When the New Mexico territory was created, the new bishop, Bishop Jean Baptiste Lamy realized that there was a need for a school in the territory to teach the children of the area. He reached out to all of the orders of sisters that taught children, and only one group answered, the Sisters of Loretto. They arrived around 1850 to Santa Fe after a long and arduous journey across the country and began the process of building a school in the Gothic style of a chapel that Bishop Lamy had loved back in France. A chapel was built thereafter. The architect died before the Chapel of Our Lady of Light (as it was then called) was finished and there was no access to the choir loft some 22 feet above the ground of the chapel. Several carpenters were called in, all of them saying that the only way to gain access to the choir loft and not lose any seating capacity, was to build a ladder. For obvious reasons, this was unacceptable. The sisters prayed a nine-day novena to Saint Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters.

On the ninth day of the novena, a man appeared with a donkey, a hammer and a carpenter's square looking for work. He had two conditions: 1) that water be brought into the chapel and 2) that no one be present while he was working. He would leave whenever the sisters came in to pray. This carpenter built a beautiful staircase with two 360 degree turns using only wood and pegs, There were no nails and no glue used in the construction of the staircase. The staircase was built with any visible means of support. After finishing the work, the carpenter disappeared without being paid or given thanks. The sisters checked with all of the hardware stores and lumber yards in the area to see if there had been an account for the wood for the staircase, but could not find one. Interestingly, the wood is a rare type of wood that is not found in the American southwest. It may be from the spruce family

The sisters ran an ad in the local newspaper looking for the name of the carpenter, but no one came forward either as the carpenter or to identify the carpenter. Many believe that it was Saint Joseph himself. Others believe that it may have been someone sent by Saint Joseph. But the staircase is "springy" under people's feet and has stood for close to 150 years with to visible means of support. Its design is nothing short of miraculous! It lost some of its springy-ness when metal brackets were added in the late twentieth century.

The Apparition of Saint Joseph at Fatima

Image retrieved from and used as being in the public domain.

Few people realize that Saint Joseph also appeared at Fatima. That would include me until today. But it is true that he did appear there during the October 1917 apparition. As Venerable Servant of God Lucia reports in her memoirs at Page 183:

“Af­ter Our Lady had disappeared into the immense distance of the firmament, we beheld St. Joseph with the Child Jesus and Our Lady robed in white with a blue mantle, beside the sun. St. Joseph and the Child Jesus seemed to bless the world, for they traced the Sign of the Cross with their hands.”

This was important, as later messages would show, that God wanted some devotion to Saint Joseph, who knew of the Passion that Jesus was to endure, but suffered silently.

There are other apparitions of Saint Joseph that may be discussed on another day or maybe next year on March 19. Stay tuned!


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