Hi, guys —
Can you elaborate on the story I heard
in Catholic school of St. Joseph being
picked by Mary and the holding of the lily?
I thought I remembered the story being told
that men placed lilies on the altar and the
one that bloomed was most pure one and Mary
was to pick this person.
you elaborate on the story I heard in Catholic
school of St. Joseph and the lilies? }
Hi, Linda —
Various symbolic meanings for the
lily have been proposed in connection
with St. Joseph. Legends developed
over the centuries, but I haven't
heard the particular story you've
As it happens, the lily is also a
symbol of our Lady, based on the
Scripture passage at Song of Songs
2:1, which is:
"I am the Rose of Sharon,
the lily of the valleys."
So roses and lilies became symbols
for Mary. With that as background,
the lily with St. Joseph reminds
us that his spouse was the spotless
Hi, Linda —
I found some more material for the
St. Joseph question. There is an
early Christian document called the "Gospel
of James", from around 150 AD.
It includes stories about how Mary
and Joseph came to be betrothed.
(Note: this is not reliable history,
but it shows where some of our legends
of Mary and Joseph came from.)
From the above page:
7. And her months were added to
the child. And the child was two
years old, and Joachim said: Let
us take her up to the temple of
the Lord, that we may pay the
vow that we have vowed, lest perchance
the Lord send to us, and our offering
be not received. And Anna said:
Let us wait for the third year,
in order that the child may not
seek for father or mother. And
Joachim said: So let us wait.
And the child was three years
old, and Joachim said: Invite
the daughters of the Hebrews that
are undefiled, and let them take
each a lamp, and let them stand
with the lamps burning, that the
child may not turn back, and her
heart be captivated from the temple
of the Lord. And they did so until
they went up into the temple of
the Lord. And the priest received
her, and kissed her, and blessed
her, saying: The Lord has magnified
your name in all generations.
In you, on the last of the days,
the Lord will manifest His redemption
to the sons of Israel. And he
set her down upon the third step
of the altar, and the Lord God
sent grace upon her; and she danced
with her feet, and all the house
of Israel loved her.
8. And her parents went down marveling,
and praising the Lord God, because
the child had not turned back.
And Mary was in the temple of
the Lord as if she were a dove
that dwelt there, and she received
food from the hand of an angel.
And when she was twelve years
old there was held a council of
the priests, saying: Behold, Mary
has reached the age of twelve
years in the temple of the Lord.
What then shall we do with her,
lest perchance she defile the
sanctuary of the Lord? And they
said to the high priest: You stand
by the altar of the Lord; go in,
and pray concerning her; and whatever
the Lord shall manifest unto you,
that also will we do. And the
high priest went in, taking the
robe with the twelve bells into
the holy of holies; and he prayed
concerning her. And behold an
angel of the Lord stood by him,
saying unto him:
Zechariah, Zechariah, go out and
assemble the widowers of the
people, and let them bring
each his rod; and to whomsoever
the Lord shall show a sign,
his wife shall she be.
And the heralds went out through
all the circuit of Judæa, and
the trumpet of the Lord sounded,
and all ran.
9. And Joseph, throwing away his
axe, went out to meet them; and
when they had assembled, they
went away to the high priest,
taking with them their rods. And
he, taking the rods of all of
them, entered into the temple,
and prayed; and having ended his
prayer, he took the rods and came
out, and gave them to them: but
there was no sign in them, and
Joseph took his rod last; and,
behold, a dove came out of the
rod, and flew upon Joseph's head.
And the priest said to Joseph,
You have been chosen by lot to
take into your keeping the virgin
of the Lord. But Joseph refused,
saying: I have children, and I
am an old man, and she is a young
girl. I am afraid lest I become
a laughing-stock to the sons of
Israel. And the priest said to
Joseph: Fear the Lord your God,
and remember what the Lord did to
Dathan, and Abiram, and Korah;
(Numbers 16:31-33) how the earth
opened, and they were swallowed
up on account of their contradiction.
And now fear, O Joseph, lest the
same things happen in your house.
And Joseph was afraid, and took
her into his keeping. And Joseph
said to Mary:
Behold, I have received you from
the temple of the Lord; and
now I leave you in my house,
and go away to build my buildings,
and I shall come to you.
The Lord will protect you.
There is a Wikipedia article about
it at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_James
Hi, Linda —
I stumbled across another legend
from a site named: ChristStory,
Christian Legends and Symbols and
I've pulled out the appropriate text.
It should be noted that the Gospel
of the Birth of Mary is an unapproved
writing of the Church.
We refer to this as an apocrypha
writing. That said, this legend,
as in Richard's answer,
has no weight at all in Catholic
doctrine, teaching or history.
Could either of these legends be
false? Maybe. Could they be true?
Maybe, but more probably they are
Because of the following story
recorded in The Gospel of the
Birth of Mary, and
The Golden Legend, St. Joseph
has been pictured with a rod or
staff blooming with lilies. According
to this ancient story, when Mary
was three years old her parents,
Joachim and Anna, took her to
the temple in Jerusalem and left
her there to serve the Lord with
the other temple virgins. At that
time, it was the custom for the
temple virgins to be sent home
to marry and raise children when
they reached the age of fourteen.
However, Mary had secretly devoted
her life and her virginity to
the Lord's service.
The high priest, daring neither
to dissolve a vow made to the
Lord, nor to introduce the custom
of adult temple virgins called
together the Elders of Jerusalem.
As they were praying over this
matter, a voice spoke from the
Ark of the Covenant saying,
"Mary's husband shall be
revealed when all the unmarried
men of the house of David bring
a staff to the altar of the Lord.
Then the chosen husband's staff
shall flower and the dove of the
Holy Spirit shall rest upon it.
Thus shall be fulfilled the words
of the prophet Isaiah, 'There
shall come forth a Rod from the
stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall
grow out of his roots.'"
Therefore all the unmarried male
descendants of David were brought
together before the altar of the
Lord and each presented his staff.
However, Joseph, being well along
in years, considered himself ill
suited to marry the young virgin
and hid his. When no man's staff
flowered, the elders again consulted
the Lord and the angel's voice
betrayed Joseph. Joseph then brought
forth his staff which immediately
blossomed with lilies and the
Holy Spirit perched upon it in
the form of a dove. In this way,
Joseph was chosen by God to be
the husband of Mary.
I also found this question and answer
on the University of Dayton's web
Is the St. Joseph Lily named after
the husband of Mary or
Joseph of Arimathea?
The lily is associated with St.
Joseph, spouse of Mary, through
an ancient legend that he was
so chosen from among other
men by the blossoming of his
staff like a lily. Likewise,
the biblical passage,
"The just man shall blossom
like the lily" (Hosea
is applied to St. Joseph in the
liturgy of the Roman Catholic
Church for his feast day, March
Thus, in religious art the
lily is used as an emblem of
St. Joseph, and similarly in
religious flower symbolism
the names "St. Joseph's
Staff" and "St. Joseph's
Lily" have been applied
to a number of flowers - depending
on the region.
In the Roman Church, St. Joseph,
the carpenter of Nazareth,
is also venerated as the patron
of all workmen, with feast
day on May 1st, and thus as
the patron of all who work
for the building of God's Kingdom
on earth as it is in heaven.
Thus, we have adopted him as
the patron of Mary Gardening
Hope this answers your question.