Wednesday 19 March 2014

'Jesu's Pleasant Fosterer'- Feast of Saint Joseph, March 19

Apart from looking at the actual Irish saints who are commemorated on our native calendars, it is also interesting to look at the commemorations of the saints of the universal church. March 19 is the feast of Saint Joseph and he is noted in a quatrain in the Martyrology of Oengus along with the native Saint Lactean of Freshford and Saint Gregory. The latter may mark the feast of the ordination of Pope Gregory the Great, for whom the Irish had enormous regard and whose main feast occurs on March 12. Although he comes last in the line up of saints, Saint Joseph is certainly not least as the entry from the calendar shows:

19. My Lachtóc with Gregory,
the loveable champion who is higher:
Joseph, name that is nobler,
Jesu's pleasant fosterer.

to which the scholiast notes add:  
Joseph, i.e. Mary's spouse: it is nobler to call him 'Jesu's foster-father' than "Joseph."

This made me wonder if the practice of fosterage in ancient Ireland meant that our people would have been quite accepting of the notion of Our Lord having a foster father.

Canon O'Hanlon adds this brief entry in Volume III of his Lives of the Irish Saints:

The Feast of St. Joseph, Confessor, the Fosterer of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Such is the title given to the chaste spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the "Feilire" of St. Aengus, at this date, which it seems was his festival day in the early Irish Church, as it is yet throughout Christendom. The Bollandists, various other hagiologists, and the ancient Fathers, treat largely and learnedly, regarding his race, vocation, and religious culture.

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