St. Joseph’s Legacy

The honour of this humble staff, a tacit witness to lofty mysteries, far surpasses the brilliance of the richest sceptres in the world.

Prince of the House of David and safeguard of all the divine promises made over millennia… Yet how simply the virginal father of the God-Man lived, the holder of such august titles!

Iconography generally depicts him carrying a staff devoid of any adornment apart from the usual lilies. There have been patriarchs and prophets who have marked history with their staffs: well-known, for example, are the portents wrought by Moses’ rod (cf. Ex 7-10) or the divine oracle manifested by Zechariah breaking his two staffs (cf. Zec 11:7-14). On the other hand, potentates in every age have flaunted luxurious sceptres, made of ivory or gold, encrusted with precious stones. Joseph did not. But this does not mean that his staff is inferior in glory to all the others.

In fact, the unfathomable honour with which God surrounded this staff, a tacit witness to lofty mysteries, far surpasses the brilliance of any sceptre, no matter how exquisite.

If Moses was glorious when he opened the Red Sea with his rod, Joseph was much more so, leading the Holy Family in the perilous crossing of the desert, with his staff, guarding the infancy of the Child God and guiding His first steps. When, in the uncertainties of everyday life, the Blessed Virgin contemplated her spouse with his staff in hand, did She recall the Psalm: “for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me” (23:4)?

How fondly Jesus and Mary must have kept this blessed relic when the Holy Patriarch closed his eyes to this life! What hopes they must have had for the future of the Church when they saw that staff with which Joseph had always led them so victoriously! How much security it betokened to the orphanhood of the Creator and the widowhood of the Queen of the Universe, who were still suffering in this exile!

Many of the objects belonging to the Holy Family have been lost over time. St. Joseph’s flowering staff, however, is still with us today, in a church dedicated to him in Naples. Perhaps Providence allowed this so that the staff would remain as a legacy of his victorious protection over all the faithful, just as he watched over the first fruits of salvation, Jesus and Mary.

To “he who conquerors”, the Lord promised in the Book of Revelation to give power over the nations, to rule them with a “rod of iron” (2:26-27). Contrary to the mistaken idea that this reward refers to tyranny, it in fact evokes the role of a true father who, in his authority, offers firmness, stability and strength to the existence of his children.

St. Joseph’s staff – Church dedicated to him in Naples (Italy)

What, then, will be the reward reserved for Joseph, whose works, love, fidelity, generosity, patience and endurance (cf. Rv 2:19) were so perfect in God’s eyes? And what portents will the Protector of the Holy Church yet manifest to humanity, having defeated the forces of evil in time and eternity? Will he not have power over the events of history, together with his Divine Son and his Most Holy Spouse?

Devotion to St. Joseph can never be considered just one of out of so many others. It is a fundamental devotion for anyone who truly wants to belong to Our Lord Jesus Christ and Our Lady. His staff is therefore a pledge and a promise of triumph for our times!

With it, the Holy Patriarch will lead us on our pilgrimage in this world and will hasten to our aid in every danger! ◊



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