St. Joseph's Church in Nazareth

St. Joseph

Joseph is the silent character in the New Testament narrative regarding the birth of Jesus. No word of his was ever recorded and yet we can picture him as a man of strong spirit who experienced angelic visitations. 

 

"...the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for He who is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit’” (Matthew 1:20).

 

"...the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, ‘Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy Him’” (Matthew 2:13).

 

"...an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt saying, ‘Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life’" (Matthew 2:19-20).

 

"then after being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee" (Matthew 2:22).

 

Joseph was a carpenter by occupation, although there is a dispute among the scholars about the meaning of the Greek word, tekton, which can also mean a builder.

 

There is no trace of Joseph in the Gospel after Jesus begins His ministry.

 

Interestingly, when Jesus was gathering His disciples, Philip refers to Him as “Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:45) but later in His ministry, He is called Mary’s son (Mark 6:3). It is possible that by this time, perhaps Joseph had died.

St. Joseph's Church

The entrance to St. Joseph's Church
The entrance to St. Joseph's Church

The first church on this site was probably built in the 12th century by the Crusaders and the ruins of the original church were incorporated into the current church which was designed by German architect Fr. Hinterkuesser and completed in 1911.

 

In the church, there is a crypt within the basement level as well as other interesting preserved ruins. One is a Byzantine period basin that likely served for baptisms. Seven steps lead into the baptismal pool and other artifacts include ancient cisterns and storage pits.

 

In the apse of the church, there are three stained glass windows which depict epoch moments in the life of Joseph. The first window shows Joseph as he is dreaming (Matthew 1:18-25). The next window shows the marriage of Joseph and Mary followed by the third which shows Joseph being comforted by Mary and Jesus.