St. Joseph bursts from the darkness, holding the Light of the World; the pillar, elevating and guiding us to Christ. He cradles the house of the Holy Family (the domestic life) in his arm, and stomps on the devil who snarls at our Lord, furious that he cannot further destroy the domestic church.
Lilies of purity spring forth around Joseph, the symbol of his purity. One tradition recounts that his staff burst forth in blooms of lilies when placed before the Arc of the Covenant, signifying God’s choice of him as the husband of Mary.
Joseph wears the brown of humility and poverty (and a symbol of carpentry), and is covered in green symbolizing his fidelity to God. On his head is the traditional Jewish prayer shawl.
Jesus gazes directly into our eyes, He give a blessing with His right hand, with His arms spread wide in reference to his death on the Cross. In the same way it is also the symbol of an embrace as it is often said that Jesus’ arms were stretched out on the Cross in an embrace of humanity. Here, depicted as a child, the warm embrace of us comes to the forefront, but the Cross is never forgotten.
Painted as a comission for a family in honor of St. Joseph and his continual aid in their lives, from new jobs to new homes, and a string of financial miracles in between. One of the founding reasons they decided to comission this painting is a recognition and participation in the rich tradition of the Church and Her holy images, namely that the Infant of Prague statue/doll was originally commissioned by lay people as a wedding gift. A gift that God later deigned to animate to speak to St. Teresa of Avila.
Not saying you will receive a miracle or hear Jesus speak through my painting, though God’s Will be done, but that God works an incredible number of miracles through holy images that began in the hearts of lay people as a simple honoring of God, Mary, or a Saint. And indeed, even though all churches are created by the approval of the hierarchy of the Church, not a single one has ever been completed without the free-will offerings of Her laity.
It’s a humbling thought for the part of this world that looks at art and beauty as an excess that should be avoided, not realizing their ability, and call, to support the conversions of others through a sacrifice of finances for the greater glory of God.
Besides that valiant cause, the couple also simply wanted an image their children could grow up with and love and learn devotion to St. Joseph. An image that was particularly theirs. How cute is that?
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