Religious Icons of Saint Joseph the Betrothed
Religious icons depicting Saint Joseph the Betrothed are not as popular as icons of some other saints. Besides, they come in a range of different variations that are hard to remember. However, Saint Joseph is still one of the most beloved saints among Orthodox, Catholic, and Anglican believers. The figure of Saint Joseph is associated with various feast days, and Joseph himself is regarded in the Catholic Church as the patron saint of all workers. Below you will find some information about the life of this righteous man and a description of his icons.
The lineage and life of Saint Joseph
As the legend says, Saint Joseph the Betrothed was of the royal lineage of King David, but he was a simple man engaged in carpentering in Nazareth. After becoming a widower with seven children, he led a righteous life and was chosen to protect the Most Holy Theotokos who had taken a vow of virginity.
Saint Joseph is last mentioned when Jesus entered Jerusalem at the age of twelve. The date of his death is unknown. Saint Joseph probably died before Jesus started His public ministry. At the time, he was one hundred years old.
Religious icons of Saint Joseph
Traditionally, Saint Joseph is portrayed as a middle-aged man. He is most often shown in icons representing those evangelical events to which he was a witness and participant. These are primarily the icons of the Nativity of Christ. In all variants, however, his figure is displayed aside from the central part of the icon where the Virgin is placed, thus emphasizing his non-participation in the Savior’s conception. Joseph’s pose is usually filled with intense contemplation and confusion. Some religious icons depict him along with the divine Baby when Christ was presented in the Temple. The city of Jerusalem is placed above Joseph’s shoulder as a symbol of the Heavenly Home.
Concerning the symbolism represented in the religious icons of Saint Joseph, there are some quite interesting examples. Many icons show Joseph being tempted by the Devil, who is depicted as an old man with furled wings. The Devil symbolizes the confusion that seized Joseph when he heard of the Immaculate Conception of Christ in the womb of the Virgin Mary.
Among the symbols that surround the figure of Joseph are lilies pointing to the purity and patience of this righteous man and a cloth covering his left hand, which indicates the respect toward Christ.
Saint Joseph is highly venerated in the Orthodox Church for his protection of the Virgin and Christ, as well as his devotional life. Stay with Russian Icon to learn more about other saints and the fascinating world of religious icons!