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The Great St. Joseph
By: Dr. Remi Amelunxen
Some years ago, Dr. Remi Amelunxen received a large, very old collection of works, dated 1856, on the lives of the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph. It had been approved by Pope Pius IX who, based on it, had proclaimed St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church.
Dr. Amelunxen made a succinct summary of the work and added excerpts from The City of God, by Venerable Mary of Agreda, which had been approved and recommended by St. Pius X.
The result is The Great St. Joseph, where you will find what we know of the life of St. Joseph based on Scripture, great Saints and Doctors of the Church, and approved mystics.
In it, there are short chapters on his birth, presentation in the temple, and childhood. Then, follow his life with the Blessed Virgin: the espousal, the Incarnation, and the Nativity. Finally, read about events in the life of the Holy Family: the Presentation, the Flight into Egypt and return to Nazareth, the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple. The last chapter looks at the suffering and death of St. Joseph and evidence of his assumption into Heaven.
Below you can read the INTRODUCTION by Dr. Amelunxen, where he lays out the plan and sources for The Great St. Joseph.
Sure to enlarge your knowledge of the great Saint and increase your devotion to him!
A large part of this account of the life of St. Joseph was taken from a massive and very old work entitled Life of the Blessed Virgin by Msgr. Romuald Gentilucci, Chamberlain of Honor to His Holiness Pope Pius IX, now Blessed, dated 1856. The full title is Life of the Blessed Virgin, of Her Blessed Spouse, St. Joseph, and Her Holy Parents St. Joachim and St. Anne. At the beginning of the work is a beautiful letter of Msgr. Gentilucci dedicating the text to His Holiness Pope Pius IX. In one passage, the Monsignor stated:
"I was sustained and encouraged by the incalculable protection which the Sovereign Pontiff Pius IX deigned to bestow on my work, even permitting it to be adorned with his august name. The words of veneration and love for the Virgin Mary which he uttered on that occasion determined me to overcome every obstacle and bear this humble offering to Mary's altar."
It should be remembered that Pope Pius IX declared the dogma of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, 1854, four years prior to its declaration by the Blessed Mother to Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes in France in 1858.
The present work is based principally on Part Two of Msgr. Gentilucci's compilation, which brings together his own and two other studies on St. Joseph. Part Two is authored by Fr. Joseph Ignatius Vallejo, S.J., and its extended title is The Life of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Foster Father of Jesus.
Fr. Vallejo was born in Mexico in 1718 and was a Professor of Theology at the University of St. Francis Borgia in Guatemala. Pope Pius IX approved this discourse by Fr. Vallejo and based on it, proclaimed St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church. He is also recognized as the patron saint of the family, the worker and the New World (the three Americas).
Fr. Vallejo's discourse is a lengthy 342 pages on the life of St. Joseph. Since his writings are quite detailed, our goal was to select important events in his life and present them in simpler form.
Other significant episodes from the life of St. Joseph, containing related events in the lives of the Blessed Mother and Jesus and not included in the work by Fr. Vallejo, were taken from The Mystical City of God by Venerable Mary of Agreda, which is an extensive four-volume account of the lives of the Holy Family.
The following is a brief history of the life of this remarkable mystic. Mary of Agreda was born on April 2, 1602 in the small town of Agreda near Tarazona in Spain. In 1617, she entered the Convent of the Immaculate Conception in Agreda, home of the Discalced Franciscan Nuns. In 1625, she became Abbess, and her fame spread in both the Church and the State. King Philip IV visited her several times to consult on State affairs. Venerable Mary of Agreda is known to have been favored with the miraculous gift of bi-location. Always remaining in her convent in Agreda, she was for a number of years the first messenger of the Holy Faith sent by God to the Indians in Arizona and New Mexico. This occurred prior to the missionary activity of the Franciscans, who were amazed at the testimony of the Indians about the beautiful lady who instructed them in the Catholic Faith.
According to Venerable Mary of Agreda, by divine command she began to write The Mystical City of God on December 8, 1655, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. One year after her death in 1665, she was declared Venerable and the process of canonization was promoted. In 1681 Pope Innocent XI decreed that The Mystical City of God be freely spread among the clergy and laity. Why this great mystic has not yet been canonized remains a mystery.
The events in the life of St. Joseph found in the short Chapters 2, 3 and 4 were taken from The Life of St. Joseph as Manifested by Our Lord Jesus Christ to Maria Cecilia Baij, O.S.B., Abbess of the Benedictine Convent of St. Peter in Montefiascone, Italy from 1743-1766. This work of Abbess Baij has the nihil obstat and imprimatur of Bishop Emidio Trenta Bishop of Viterbo, Italy, 1921. It also has the approval of Pope Benedict XV and learned theologians.
Some of the notables referenced by Fr. Vallejo include: St. Ambrose, St. Justin, St. Basil, St. Leo, St. Jerome, St. John Chrysostom, St. Bernard, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Peter Canisius, St. Remigius, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Alphonsus Liguori, St. Francis de Sales, St. Bernardine of Sienna, and Fr. Bernardine de Busto, a confrere of St. Bernardine of Sienna. Also referenced many times are Fr. Francisco Suarez, a great theologian of the 16th century; Fr. Segneri, a reputed theologian of the 17th century, and Abbot Trombelli, also a noted theologian. In addition, more than a dozen eminent lay historians and lay theologians are also listed in this work.
Since Sacred Scripture is sparse on the details of the life of St. Joseph, to obtain insight into the great marvels of his life and that of the Holy Family, we must rely on other sources such as Sacred Tradition, the writings of the Doctors of the Church, Saints, eminent lay historians and theologians, and the writings and revelations of approved mystics. Msgr. Gentilucciâ's three-part book incorporates these sources, except for the works of approved mystics.
It must be emphasized that all of the sources used are not de fide and belief by the faithful is not mandatory regarding them. However, it should be stressed that these works have received the approbation of Popes, Doctors of the Church, and many Saints, which lends great credibility to their authenticity. For example, The Mystical City of God by Venerable Mary of Agreda has received the approbation of 32 Popes, and the great St. Pius X so loved the work that he recommended daily reading from it for the clergy and laity.
Chapter 1: Sanctification in the Womb
Chapter 2: Presentation of St. Joseph in the Temple
Chapter 3: Joseph's Childhood
Chapter 4: Departure from Nazareth to Jerusalem
Chapter 5: Espousal of St. Joseph with the Blessed Virgin Mary
Chapter 6: St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother before the Incarnation
Chapter 7: The Incarnation of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Visitation of Holy Mary with St. Elizabeth
Chapter 8: How St. Joseph Was Informed of the Incarnation
Chapter 9: The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Chapter 10: The Circumcision of the Infant Jesus and His Presentation in the Temple
Chapter 11: The Flight into Egypt, the Massacre of the Holy Innocents, and the Return to Nazareth
Chapter 12: St. Joseph's Life at Nazareth and the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple
Chapter 13: The Suffering and Death of St. Joseph and Evidence of His Assumption into Heaven
Appendix 1: Quotes in Holy Scripture regarding St. Joseph
Appendix 2: The Holy Family Belonged to a Royal House
Appendix 3: Clarifications