Sleeping Saint Joseph


In 2015, during his trip to the Philippines, Pope Francis popularized the image of St. Joseph lying on his side, fast asleep.   “I like St. Joseph very much. He’s a strong man of silence.  On my desk, I have an image of St. Joseph sleeping.  Even when he is asleep, he looks after the Church.  Yes!  We know that he can do that” Pope Francis said, “so when I have a problem, a difficulty, I write a little note, and I put it underneath St. Joseph, so that he can dream about it!  In other words, I tell him: ‘Pray for this problem!’”

Our parish has one of the largest Sleeping St. Joseph statues in the world.  Illuminated at night and located next to the Holy Family Picnic area on our beautiful parish grounds, our Sleeping St. Joseph monument serves both as a token of our love for our parish’s patron saint and as a reminder of what he has done and is capable of doing for the Church and all people.  St. Joseph does not speak in the Gospels, but he dreams of heaven and acts decisively according to God’s divine plan.  These dreams are painted on the walls around our Sleeping St. Joseph monument.

In Mathew’s Gospel, God speaks to St. Joseph in four dreams.  In the first dream, Joseph dreams of an angel telling him to take Mary home as his wife, because the child was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit (Mathew 1:20-21)  Putting his faith in God, Joseph took Mary as his wife.  After the birth of Jesus, in a second dream an angel tells Joseph to leave Bethlehem and flee with his family to Egypt because Herod wanted to hurt them (Mathew 2:13).  And so Joseph took mother and baby on a perilous journey to an unknown country.  Anyone who has ever been forced to move to somewhere unknown understands something of the anxiety Joseph must have felt.  But Joseph went because God had commanded him.  In his third dream, an angel tells Joseph to return to the land of Israel (Mathew 2:19-20), and in his fourth dream Joseph is asked to go to the town of Nazareth in  Galilee and make it his home to fulfill the prophecy that Jesus would be called a Nazorean (Mathew 2:22). 

Certainly St. Joseph knows how to rest peacefully with God!  He rests with trust in God’s divine plan and acts with divine inspiration.  We can certainly learn from him how to rest in the middle of our busy lives and work hard according to God’s plan, and not run the risk of being busy with things that do not matter much eternally.   Pope Francis says the way St. Joseph responded to his dreams — by rising and doing as God had asked — shows St. Joseph was a man who was willing to do the will of God immediately. “Those precious moments of repose, of resting with the Lord in prayer, are moments we might wish to prolong. But like St. Joseph, once we have heard God’s voice, we must rise from our slumber; we must get up and act.”

Together with our Mission church, which was named in 1797 at its founding in honor of St. Joseph (“La Mision del Gloriosisimo Patriarch San Jose”), and our St. Joseph shrine near Mission Blvd, the new statues of Sleeping St. Joseph establish our parish as a devotional destination for our patron saint. He is also the patron saint and protector of the Universal Church and patron saint of families, fathers, expectant mothers, travelers, immigrants, house sellers and buyers, craftsmen, engineers and working people, among others.

Our parish will have two Sleeping St. Joseph statues.  The second will be placed inside the Mission Blvd entry vestibule of our church as part of the church renovation.  Both statues were funded by generous donations.

A Prayer to Sleeping Saint Joseph

O Saint Joseph, you are a man greatly favored by the Most High.  The angel of the Lord appeared to you in dreams, while you slept, to warn you and guide you as you cared for the Holy Family.  You were both silent and strong, a loyal and courageous protector.

Dear Saint Joseph, as you rest in the Lord, confident of his absolute power and goodness, look upon me. Please take my need (mention your request) into your heart, dream of it, and present it to your Son.  Help me then, good Saint Joseph, to hear the voice of God, to arise, and act with love.  I praise and thank God with joy.  Saint Joseph, I love you.  Amen.