What evidence is there for St. Joseph's vow of virginity?


I have heard that Saint Joseph made a vow of virginity in addition to Mary’s own vow. Her vow of virginity is very clear in Luke 1:34, but the best arguments I’ve heard for Joseph’s vow have been either “Well, she made one, so Joseph must have just gone along with it!” or “Clearly, they would have talked about it before getting married, so her vow of virginity must have come up. If he hadn’t also made a vow, he wouldn’t have betrothed her.” Both these reasons seem to base their conclusion on modern ideas of communication prior to marriage, which was so radically different between the sexes in the time of the Holy Family.

Biblically, can we know if Joseph made a vow of celibacy prior to becoming betrothed to Mary? How do we know this?

Thank you!

There is nothing considered authoritative regarding St. Joseph’s circumstances. The canonical Gospels mention St. Joseph in only a few places and without much detail. Most of what has become popular tradition regarding St. Joseph comes from apocryphal writings (Gospel of James, Pseudo-Matthew, Gospel of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, Story of Joseph the Carpenter, Life of the Virgin and Death of Joseph).

From these writings come the popular tradition that St. Joseph had been previously married for a long period of time. His first wife passed away and when Mary was at the age of betrothal Joseph was chosen as a caretaker for her since Mary had taken a vow of virginity. In this popular tradition it was apparently well known that Mary had made a vow of virginity and therefore Joseph, advanced in age, was chosen as her protector and caretaker since it would have been difficult for a younger person to agree to such a marriage.

As previously stated, these popular traditions are not based on anything from the Scriptures themselves nor have they ever been officially “enshrined” by Church tradition. All we know for sure is that Mary remained a perpetual virgin and Joseph was her husband, everything else is pious conjecture.

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