Saint Joseph, a just man, was chosen by God to be spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the foster father of Our Savior Jesus Christ. However, we know little factually in terms of his life, being mentioned in the Gospels only a handful of times and never saying a word. Here’s why Saint Joseph is the patron saint of a happy death.
A majority of biblical scholars will agree that Saint Joseph departed Earth to enjoy the fullness of the Beatific Vision prior to the Crucifixion of Jesus – an argument based in the fact he was not present at the Crucifixion, and Jesus entrusted His disciple with the care of Mary.
“Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” – John 19:27
Catholic pious tradition holds that Joseph died “in the arms of Jesus and Mary,” the archetype of a Faithful believer who receives Grace at the moment of death – the most “happy death” possible a Catholic can pray to receive, for which all Catholics can pray for his intercession to assist in achieving for us our own happy death.
Two Doctors of the Church, Saints Francis de Sales and Alfonso de Liguori, affirm the pious tradition, believing that Saint Joseph died of the love of God.
“A saint who had loved so much during his life could not die save of love; and having completed the office for which he had been destined, it only remained for him to say to the Eternal Father, ‘I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do’; and to the Son, ‘O my Child, as Thy Heavenly Father placed Thy Body in my hands on the day when Thou camest into the world, so now, in this day of my departure from the world, I place my soul in Thine. Such, I conceive, was the death of this great Patriarch.” – Saint Francis de Sales
Venerable Mary of Jesus of Agreda, renowned mystic known for reports of her bilocation, writes of a vision shown to her by God of Saint Joseph’s death in her work Mystical City of God:
“Then this man of God, turning toward Christ, our Lord, in profoundest reverence, wished to kneel before Him. But the sweetest Jesus, coming near, received him in his arms, where, reclining his head upon them, Joseph said: “My highest Lord and God, Son of the eternal Father, Creator and Redeemer of the World, give thy blessing to thy servant and the works of thy hand; pardon, O most merciful King, the faults which I have committed in thy service and intercourse. I extol and magnify Thee and render eternal and heartfelt thanks to Thee for having, in thy ineffable condescension, chosen me to be the spouse of thy true Mother; let thy greatness and glory be my thanksgiving for all eternity.”
The Redeemer of the world gave him his benediction, saying: “My father, rest in peace and in the grace of my eternal Father and mine; and to the Prophets and Saints, who await thee in limbo, bring the joyful news of the approach of their redemption.” ‘
At these words of Jesus, and reclining in his arms, the most fortunate Saint Joseph expired and the Lord himself closed his eyes.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church outlines the teaching of how to prepare ourselves for the hour of death:
“The Church encourages us to prepare ourselves for the hour of our death. In the litany of the saints, for instance, she has us pray: ‘From a sudden and unforeseen death, deliver us, O Lord’; to ask the Mother of God to intercede for us ‘at the hour of our death’ in the Hail Mary; and to entrust ourselves to St. Joseph, the patron of a happy death.” – CCC 1014
A prayer written by Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, to which Pope Pius IX attached an indulgence to, is below:
“O my Lord and Savior, support me in
my last hour in the strong arms of Thy
Sacraments and by the fresh fragrance of
Thy consolations. Let the absolving words
be said over me, and the holy oil sign and
seal me; and let Thine own Body be my
food, and Thy Blood my sprinkling; and let
my sweet Mother, Mary, breathe on me, and
my Angel whisper peace to me, and my glorious saints and my own dear patrons smile
upon me, that, in them all and through them
all, I may receive the gift of perseverance,
and die as I desire to live, in Thy faith, in
Thy Church, in Thy service, and in Thy