Joseph, young husband of Mary

We have become so accustomed to the white-haired Joseph depicted in so many paintings and icons that we almost take it for granted that he was an old man. Where does this idea come from? Scripture tells us nothing about his age, but the tradition that Joseph was an aged widower with children of his own reaches back at least to the second century. It served to emphasize the perpetual virginity of Our Lady, and also offered a possible explanation for the so-called “brethren” of Jesus in the Gospels.

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