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Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

desilva13St. Joseph has always been a special saint for me, and many saints throughout history have had a strong devotion to the foster father of Our Savior. St. Teresa of Avila, the great Carmelite nun and Doctor of the Church, was a faithful devotee of the saint, and went out of her way to spread devotion to him among her peers.

St. Joseph is the patron saint of, among other things, husbands and families, and Pope Pius XI named him the Guardian and Protector of the Universal Church. What many Catholics might not be aware is that this humble carpenter from Nazareth is also the patron saint of departing souls – that is, a peaceful death.

The obvious question that comes to mind is: “Why is St. Joseph the patron saint of a peaceful death?” Although the death of St. Joseph is not recorded in the Gospels, we know that he was not present during the Crucifixion of Jesus, and according to Church tradition, Joseph most likely died before the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry.

So St. Joseph died in the company of Jesus and Mary. What a glorious way to pass away to the other side!

The Joseph connection then is that when we die, we could surely benefit by praying to have Jesus, Mary and Joseph at our bedside to help usher us to eternity.

033117 grief coverI was reminded of this wonderful devotion a couple years ago when I covered the dedication of the Chapel of the Holy Family, located at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Charlotte. Inside the chapel, there are seven beautiful stained glass windows depicting different periods of the life of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. One of them, depicting the death of Joseph, caught my attention right away. St. Joseph is lying on his deathbed with his eyes closed. Jesus is at his bedside, His arms showing Joseph the way to two angels at the foot of the bed. To Joseph’s other side, Our Lady sits praying for her departing husband. It is quite a beautiful window to behold, and I recommend a must-see for all Catholics in the Charlotte area.

I encourage all Catholics, young or seasoned, to have recourse to the great St. Joseph at the hour when we draw our last breath. Moreover, ask him to intercede for a family member or a friend, who might be close to the end of his or her life. I leave you with this beautiful St. Joseph prayer for a peaceful death that I found online:

“To thee I have recourse, St. Joseph, patron of the dying; and to thee, at whose blessed death watchfully assisted Jesus and Mary, by both these dearest pledges I earnestly recommend the soul of this servant (handmaid) in the sufferings of his (her) last agony, that he (she) may by your protection be delivered from the snares of the devil and from eternal death, and may merit to attain everlasting joy. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.”

— Rico De Silva is the Hispanic communications reporter for the Catholic News Herald.