When you think of “the strong, silent type” of hero, does St. Joseph come to mind, or do you think of a classic western movie hero? Yet, St. Joseph is a hero. Next to Our Blessed Mother, he is the most holy human to walk the planet. Unfortunately, many of us probably don’t give much thought to St. Joseph’s miracles and apparitions, or to the saint himself for that matter. It seems he deserves far more attention and respect than he receives from the average Catholic. Although we don’t seem to hear much about them, there actually are many accounts of St. Joseph’s miracles and apparitions. Below I summarize just a few of them, in chronological order.
Miracle in Provence
One example comes from Cotignac, in southeastern France. After Our Lady appeared to a woodcutter in that area, St. Joseph later appeared to a young shepherd there. The thirsty shepherd was at work tending his sheep. A kind old man appeared and pointed out to him where he could find water. All he had to do was to lift an enormous rock. This he did, to his astonishment, and the old man, who said his name was Joseph, disappeared. Healings continue to occur at the stream of water flowing from where the rock stood. St. Joseph, a man of few words–the strong, silent type–assists the faithful to this day in their needs.
An interesting aspect of this apparition and miracle is that St. Joseph showed up seemingly in affirmation of a miracle brought about by previous novenas to Our Lady. The King and Queen of France had been unable to conceive prior to that time. Nine months after the completion of the last novena, the queen gave birth to their child. St. Louis XIV had come to Cotignac on the same date that St. Joseph appeared to the shepherd. With God and His holy saints, there are no coincidences.
In Santa Fe, New Mexico, near the end of the 19th century, the Sisters of Loretto found themselves with a new chapel and choir loft. The only problem was that they had no way to get up to the 22-foot high loft. Apparently the architect and builder had overlooked that detail. The carpenters whom the sisters contacted said there was no practical solution to the problem. So, they prayed a Rosary novena asking for the assistance of St. Joseph, patron saint of carpenters. On the tenth day, a man showed up on a donkey with some simple tools, looking for work.
Eight months later he finished his structural work of art and left without identifying himself or asking for payment. He created a complex spiral staircase with only rudimentary tools, no glue, nails or hardware. What’s more, he used wood that does not come from the local area to build it—the sisters didn’t know where he obtained it. They believed that the strong, silent carpenter was, in fact, St. Joseph.
St. Joseph Appears at Fatima
Fast forward a few decades to the twentieth century, when on October 13, 1917, tens of thousands of people saw the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima. At the same time, though, the three young visionaries beheld another sight, as described by Lucia:
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.
We need to let that sink in. St. Joseph–the strong, silent type–appeared at Fatima with the child Jesus and Mary. He, with Jesus, blessed the people with the sign of the cross. St. Joseph appeared in connection with Our Lady’s apparitions. She had appeared there prior to this apparition and during the same apparition on October 13th.
St. Joseph and Our Lady of America
Less than fifty years later in 1956 and then again in 1958, Sister Mary Ephrem Neuzil, who received messages from Our Lady of America, also received a series of visits from St. Joseph. He appeared to her on March 18th, March 19th and March 30th of 1958. Sister Mary Ephrem wrote that,
…St. Joseph came again on March 30. His requests were similar to those of Our Lady and the First Saturday. The Sacred Hearts of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph have been chosen by the Most Holy Trinity to bring peace to the world; hence their request for special love and honor, also in particular, reparation and imitation.
St. Joseph told her that Jesus and Mary desire that we honor his most pure heart in a special way. That way is the First Wednesday of the Month Devotion. In this devotion, he asked us to pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, and receive Communion. In return for one’s doing so, St. Joseph will be present at their death and lead them safely to Jesus and Mary. So, here in the 20th century, we see what might be part of a pattern: Our Blessed Mother appeared multiple times, and then St. Joseph–our strong, silent hero–appeared also.
A Colorado café owner, Jose Arturo Maestas, gives thanks to St. Joseph for saving his business. On June 26, 2019, the rain-swollen St. Vrain Creek in Longmont overflowed its banks. The surging flood waters left high water marks on the exterior of his building almost three feet high. The raging torrent wreaked havoc on a business next to his, carrying merchandise off the shelves and leaving a huge mess to clean up.
But Mr. Maestas’ café showed no signs of flooding in spite of all this. Before locking up and leaving ahead of the approaching flood waters, he placed a statue of St. Joseph on an inverted bowl in the entryway. As he did this, he promised St. Joseph to display his statue in a prominent place if he would save his business. After the flood, St. Joseph’s statue was right where he left it.
Many other individuals claim that St. Joseph has been instrumental in their lives as well. Such incidents range from cures and healings attributed to his intercession, to his showing up mysteriously to help in a crisis. And how many answered prayers will we never hear of?
St. Joseph and His Role
Other, previous columns cover the role of St. Joseph as protector of the Holy Family, of Holy Mother Church and all of us who are part of it, as well as his being an exemplar for fathers. Something I found interesting in reading Mirjana Soldo’s book, My Heart will Triumph, is the fact that she receives an annual apparition from Our Lady on March 18th. She tells us,
When the events in the secrets [given by Our Lady to the visionaries at Medjugorje] begin…You will see, for example, why she chose to appear to me on the 18th of March every year…
Of course, it’s purely conjecture, but consider that statement in light of the fact that the feast day of St. Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is the 19th of March. Could there be a connection between these two dates that involves a future apparition of St. Joseph? Consider the past apparitions where Our Lady appeared first and then, later on, St. Joseph appeared. Does one of the Medjugorje secrets involve Saint Joseph? We just have to wait to see what happens, and when. While we wait, however, many of us look forward to Father Donald Calloway’s new book on St. Joseph. When it’s published, it will provide us all with more information, inspiration and devotion to this holy saint–the strong, silent type–a true hero.
Veneration, Not Worship, of the Saints
Worship and adoration are reserved for God alone. We Catholics don’t worship the saints, nor do we worship or pray to statues. We honor the saints as those who have gone before us, fighting the good fight successfully in this life to be with God in the next. Our prayer to saints takes the form of asking them to intercede for us—to pray to God for us and for our intentions.
Just as we may ask others here on earth to pray for us, we ask the saints to pray for us—to intercede on our behalf with God. As St. James tells us, “…The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful…” (James 5:16), and who is more righteous than those already enjoying eternal beatitude? As well, in our homes, most of us probably have a photo or two of loved ones, past and present, to remind us of them. Similarly, we believe that statues and paintings of Our Lord, the angels and saints serve to remind us of them, our love for them and their love for us.
So, pray to Our Lord, and ask our brothers and sisters, the saints, to intercede with Him for us and our needs. As the author of the letter to the Hebrews tells us, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us…” (Heb 12:1) And what a powerful witness we have in St. Joseph!
St. Joseph, most strong, pray for us.