Before I formed thee in the bowels of thy mother, I knew thee: and before thou camest forth out of the womb, I sanctified thee... Jeremiah 1:5
Through the Servant of God, Mother Cecilia Baij, whose writings were given both the Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat, we learn of the circumstances of St Joseph’s conception and birth. These events mirror those of the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:5) and St John the Baptist (St Luke1:5-19, 41-44) who were sanctified in the womb several months after their conception (freed from the stain of original sin by the grace of God, not to be confused with the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.)

Servant of God, Mother Cecilia Baij: God permitted that their (Jacob and Rachel’s) marriage should, for a time, prove to be unfruitful, for He wished Joseph to be a child obtained through prayerful entreaty. … His parents generously bestowed alms upon the poor and for the temple in Jerusalem. They also made many pilgrimages to beg God for the desired offspring! God, before long, provided consolation.

It was on one occasion… in the temple, that Joseph’s mother experienced an inner conviction that God had heard her prayer … and indeed she conceived St Joseph.  

The happiness and piety of the parents were increased when an angel came to reveal to them … secret facts concerning this child. … It was disclosed that the child would have the happy privilege of seeing the promised Messiah and associating with Him …

The momentous day arrived. Joseph’s mother gave birth to her child with ease… The tiny babe had a most angelic, venerable, and serene expression  … and the mere sight of him was an occasion of spiritual stimulation for everyone. … 
Joseph was in the grace and friendship of God, having been previously freed of the stain of original sin. … Joseph had the best of dispositions: he was endowed with gifts. He matured in a most outstanding manner, both  physically and spiritually; … His soul’s growth was derived from the graces he obtained from the divine bounty and generosity. God fashioned him according to His own heart and spirit, in order to    eventually make him a worthy bridegroom for the Mother of the Divine Word. The child acknowledged these gifts which he was receiving from God. 

In the seventeenth century, a Spanish mystic named Maria de Agreda (1602-1665) was also given heavenly insights into the life of the Holy Family, which were compiled in her monumental work, Mystical City of God. Her writings have been acclaimed throughout the centuries by Popes and theologians, and she has since been declared Venerable by the Church. She too was shown that St Joseph was sanctified in his mother’s womb:

Venerable Maria de Agreda:  Joseph was to be a miracle of holiness, as he really was. This marvelous holiness commenced with the formation of his body in the womb of his mother. In this the providence of God himself interfered, regulating the composition of the four radical humors of his body with extreme nicety of proportion and securing for him that evenly tempered disposition which made his body a blessed earth fit for the abode of an exquisite soul and well-balanced mind (Wisdom 8:19.)

He was sanctified in the womb of his mother seven months after his conception, and  the  leaven  of  sin  was  destroyed  in  him  for  the  whole course of life, never having felt any impure or disorderly movement.          

Although he did not receive the use of his reason together with this first sanctification, which consisted principally in justification from original sin, yet his mother at the time felt a wonderful joy of the Holy Ghost. Without understanding entirely the mystery she elicited great acts of virtue and   believed that her son, would be wonderful in the sight of God and men.

The sanctification of Joseph in the womb is a remarkable example of God’s infinite wisdom and goodness in preparation for the Incarnation of God the Son. The Heavenly Father sanctified Joseph so that when the time came for him to wed the Blessed Virgin Mary and raise Our Lord Jesus as his own son, he would be the most perfect and holy husband and father. Just as pharaoh deemed Joseph of the Old Covenant to be the worthy prince over his possessions (Psalm 104:21 Douay-Rheims) and intercessor for those who hungered (Genesis 41:55), so too did our almighty and ever living God choose from eternity this new Joseph to be born to protect and adore His most precious treasures: Our Lord Jesus Christ – the Bread of life (St. John 6:35), and His perfect tabernacle, the Virgin Mary (St. Luke 1:42.)

St. Alphonsus Liguori: When God, destines anyone for a particular office, He gives him the graces that fit him for it. Therefore, since God chose St. Joseph to fill the office of father over the person of the Incarnate Word, we must certainly believe that he conferred upon him all the sanctity which belonged to such an office. Among other privileges, Joseph had three which were special to him. Firstly, that he was sanctified in his mother's womb, as were Jeremias and St. John the Baptist. Secondly, that he was at the same time confirmed in grace. And thirdly, that he was always exempt from the inclinations of concupiscence—a privilege with which St. Joseph by the merit of his purity, favors his devout clients by delivering them from carnal appetites.


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