Pietro Annigoni, St. Joseph and the Christ Child in the Carpentry Workshop, 1963.
Fresco, San Lorenzo, Florence.
Happy feast day!
I like thinking of St. Joseph, wondering about him. I'm not very fond of reading scholarly observations on what he was like or what he did, and all of that - simply because they are often too idealized, too perfect, too accomplished. I rather like to think of Joseph in more simple terms, an honest man, a patient man - a quiet man - not so much silent, as quiet. I love the painting I used of him, it's a detail of a larger work by Pietro Annigoni. One can see St. Joseph's fondness for the child Jesus. His intended touch, a caress, doesn't quite settle upon him, as the little Jesus works intently upon his little project. Joseph and Mary pondered much in their hearts - the Gospel tells us that about the Blessed Virgin, and so it must have been with Joseph. I think Joseph was very much restrained in his affections, in his speech, and so on. I've met men like that - mostly monks - but some ordinary men. They're often old ... often described as kindly ... they sometimes have watery eyes.
Sometimes I wonder if St. Joseph's feast is kept during Lent, frequently falling near to Holy Week because he 'missed' the Passion of his son. I wonder if God arranged it thus to spare his sensitive soul from the sight of the suffering Servant, as Isaiah spoke of, a prophecy Joseph would have known about? I say that because I like to imagine that Joseph was especially disturbed when the little Jesus was lost in the Temple - for three days the parents searched for him. What anguish and sorrow must have filled St. Joseph's heart? As father, protector, he could never let any harm come to him ... perhaps the artist who painted this image is telling us that? I wonder if this scene took place after they returned to Nazareth? Joseph knew he couldn't cling to him. Couldn't hold onto him. Couldn't hold him back.