| By Father Joseph Krupp

Are there saints we don't celebrate? If so, why not?

Dear Fr. Joe: I read with interest the various saint feast days on my calendar. Two questions: Does every saint have a feast day? Also, what or who determines which saints’ feast days make it on the calendar and which do not? It seems like every year the same saints are represented, some of whom seem rather “minor” (not to be judgmental).

Alrighty then! Let’s go with number two first, because Jesus said “the first will be last and the last will be first.” Just tryin’ to be Scriptural.

Anyway, the church decides which saints’ feast days make it on the calendar and which  ones don’t. This can be done in two ways. In the first way, popular devotion over a period of time can lead the church to officially recognize it. In the second way, sometime during or shortly after a saint is canonized, the church will ask us to celebrate the saint and his or her contributions on a specific day. I would assume that the ones chosen to be on the calendar are those who address in some way issues that are timeless. There are saints who address issues that are no longer as important as others. For example, if a saint spent his or her life defending the fact that Jesus is the Son of God then that would be something that is timeless – meaning that people always seem to attack that teaching. If they taught us about the benefits or evils of the crossbow (and there really is a saint that did that!), then that might not be something  we need to focus on as much.

Does every saint have a feast day? Yes and No (I really should run for office).

Yes, because of All Saints Day, on which we honor all of the saints who are on the calendar, along with those who are not. No, because there are only so many days in the year and at  last count over 3,000 recognized and canonized saints.

Dear Fr. Joe: I just received my Faith Magazine (Jan/Feb 2003) and read your article about whether Jesus had brothers or sisters. Personally, I have always believed that Mary had more children because the Bible calls Jesus “her firstborn son.” (Luke 2:7) Do you have more information about that? Also, does it mention anywhere when Joseph died and how?

Okay, your question basically has two parts. Let’s take the first one first. (How’s that for prioritizing?)

“Firstborn” was a significant title in Scriptural times. As Jews, there were laws and prescriptions that Mary and Joseph followed for Jesus’ dedication that are in line with the firstborn male son. (cf. Luke 2:23) It doesn’t mean that Mary had other children. It just means Jesus was the first male born to her.

In terms of Joseph’s death, I quote at this time Samuel Clemens who said, “I quote others to express myself better.” Thus, I will give you the section from the Catholic Encyclopedia on that one: “This is the last we hear of St. Joseph in the sacred writings, and we may well suppose that Jesus’ foster-father died before the beginning of the savior’s public life. In several circumstances, indeed, the Gospels speak of the latter’s mother and brothers (Matthew 12:46; Mark 3:31; Luke 8:19; John 7:3), but never do they speak of His father in connection with the rest of the family; they tell us only that our Lord, during his public life was referred to as the son of Joseph (John 1:45; 6:42; Luke 4:22) the carpenter (Matthew 13:55). Would Jesus, moreover, when about to die on the cross, have entrusted His mother to John’s care, had St. Joseph been still alive? According to the apocryphal “Story of Joseph the Carpenter,” the holy man reached his hundred and eleventh year when he died, on 20 July (A. D. 18 or 19). St. Epiphanius gives him ninety years of age at the time of his demise; and if we are to believe the Venerable Bede, he was buried in the Valley of Josaphat. In truth we do not know when St. Joseph died; it is most unlikely that he attained the ripe old age spoken of by the “Story of Joseph” and St. Epiphanius. The probability is that he died and was buried at Nazareth.”

Thanks and enjoy another day in God’s presence!