March 19 Saints of the Day – Chrysanthus & Daria and Joseph the Husband of Mary

On this day in 1962, Bob Dylan released his eponymous first album. It was a total flop. It would be discourteous to say this was because it was primarily traditional songs and covers, and thus depended more on his voice than his writing. So I won’t say it.

Chrysanthus and DariaOur eastern saints today are Chrysanthus and Daria (d. 283/284), a nobleman’s son and daughter-in-law. Having read the Gospels (and Acts — he read quickly), Chrysanthus sought out the priest Carpophorus, and was catechized and baptized. This angered his father, who tried to get his son to deconvert, going so far as locking him in a room with “shameless girls.” (I’ve seen ads for a video with that title but I’ve never watched it.) Chrysanthus however “gained the victory over himself” and remained a virgin. Seeing this didn’t work, his father forced him into a marriage with Daria, a virgin priestess of Diana. Two people religiously dedicated to maintaining their virginity. Yeah, that’ll work. Sure enough the kids talked it over and agreed to live as brother and sister, and Daria even decided to become a Christian. Chrysanthus: 2. Dad: 0.

In due time they were nabbed by the authorities and tortured. Their torturer, Claudius, was so impressed by their fortitude that he became a Christian himself, and he and his entire family were done in in various ways. Eventually C & D were thrown into a deep pit, which was then filled with stones. Later a church was built on the site (the drainage was good), and when pagans discovered Christians praying in a cave nearby (the church was closed for renovations, perhaps), they covered the entrance, with the results you would expect. Chrysanthus and Daria are also commemorated in the west, on 25 October.

JosephSpeaking of west, today we honor Joseph, the Husband of Mary (d. before 30). We know from Luke’s gospel that he went to Bethlehem because he was “of the house and lineage of David” (and not for the food as has been sometimes reported). He was both just and compassionate — when he learned Mary was pregnant, he decided to quietly divorce her, rather than make a spectacle that would lead to her death. He was a carpenter — when our Lord visited Nazareth, the people said of him, “Is this not the carpenter’s son?” (or “carpenterovich”).

He had great faith — he believed the angel about Jesus’ divine parentage, and when the same angel told him to head out for Egypt, he grabbed Mary and Jesus and hit the camel path. Tradition tells us that James, the brother of Jesus, went on this trip, and he is often depicted leading the donkey carrying Mary and Jesus. “Say what?” I hear you cry. “I thought Jesus was her firstborn son.” You are so right. The church teaches that the siblings of our Lord in the Gospels are Joseph’s children from his first marriage. (Time travel can’t be entirely ruled out, but in this case I’m going to go out on a limb and say nay. Plus the church also teaches Mary’s perpetual virginity.)

According to ancient sources (and the “Cherry Tree Carol,” although that may not be an independent witness), Joseph was old when he married the blessed Virgin. The story goes like this: The priest Zachariah was told to choose a husband for Mary from among the widowers of the city, so he gathered all their staffs (staves?) and took them into the temple. When Joseph’s staff budded with flowers (or a dove flew out of it; pick your source), he was chosen. Some say this was to fool the Devil, who knew the Messiah would be born of a virgin. At the time of this writing, however, the Devil did not answer our request for an interview.

After the incident in which Jesus argued with the Rabbis while his parents frantically searched the overhead bins, Joseph drops out of the narrative entirely, and is thus believed to have died not long after. He is the patron saint of the Church Universal, as well as carpenters, fathers, and social justice.

Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.

March 19 (Wikipedia)
Bob Dylan (album) (Wikipedia)
The Prologue of Ohrid (book on paper) – Main source
Saints Chrysanthus and Daria (Wikipedia)
Saint Chrysanthus (SQPN)
St. Joseph (Catholic.org) – Main source
Joseph, Husband of Mary (St. Patrick’s, DC)
The Birth of Mary the Holy Mother of God


About Your Intrepid Blogger

I live in the Tacoma area. When not writing things some people think are funny, I teach technology to 7th and 8th graders at a local middle school.

2 comments on “March 19 Saints of the Day – Chrysanthus & Daria and Joseph the Husband of Mary

  1. These profiles are so well-written and lovably satirical … I missed a few days and am now enjoying the business of catching-up. A full calendar of these = a new book. I hope you’re considering it. Beautiful art featuring Joseph — I had never seen a piece quite as expressive as that one. Also: loved your reference to the stories told in the Protevangelium — so very ancient that they must have contained several kernels of authentic tradition. I think the “brothers” of Jesus were likely to have been Davidic clan-members, for that is exactly how Jesus would have referred to any and all male relatives of his clan: “brothers” — Aramaic-speaking people (especially in the Galilee) possessed no other one-word term to define familial male relationships (sisters, too). That is also exactly how these men would have been remembered by the Greek-speaking/writing “authors” of the Gospels. “Lost in tansliteration.” Any close male relative would have been known and remembered as a “Brother of The Lord” — they would not have been remembered by terms that were not actually used in their regard. I always thought Protestants (fundamentalists, at least) had such a drab hang-up regarding the “brethren.” The insistence on a literal interp despite almost 20 centuries of strong tradtion that clarified such a literal reading. No understanding of the tribal context of Christ’s life, His world. I do imagine Joseph was older than holy Mary — maybe not a “grampa” but perhaps significantly older. That would not have been unusual in their culture. The nice thing about the Protevangelium is that it probably preserves an authentic tradition/memory that the brothers of Jesus were important male relatives from Joseph’s side of the family. Thanks and keep up the great work.

  2. Any chance of a biography of Mamiya of Mobberley?

    Some fine writing here.

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