St. Joseph’s Church: So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. (Luke 2:4)
Winter: Monday-Saturday 8AM to 5PM
Summer: Saturday-Sunday 8AM to 6PM
St. Joseph Church is to the north of the Basilica of the Annunciation on Casa Nova Street. The Franciscan Convent lies between the two churches. St. Joseph’s Church goes by many different titles. It is also called the Church of the Nutrition and Joseph’s Workshop. This second name comes from the belief that Joseph, the father of Jesus, had his carpentry shop in the cavern below. This fabulous find sits right next to the Basilica of the Annunciation.
In Romanesque style, it has three long halls opening to three gathering places. In the 1950s an Italian artist decorated the apses. The main picture is the holy family, but one is also of Joseph, the father of Jesus Christ. With its central location and generous hours, this site is a must-see for any Christian walking through the land that Jesus trod. Its beautiful masonry and tree lined sidewalks provide a beautifully restful sight along the Christian’s tour of the Holy Lands where Jesus walked.
In the 12th century, crusaders built a church at the current location of St. Joseph’s over the remains of a Byzantine church. It was built in a French style. After the Arabic occupation in the 13th century, the church was left in ruins. In 1754, the Franciscans purchased the land and built a chapel dedicated to St. Joseph. In 1908, excavation uncovered the remains of the Byzantine church. Once the cave below was uncovered, there was much talk of the cavern being used my Joseph as carpentry workshop.
St. Joseph’s Church, as it looks now, was built in 1914. Unlike the Byzantine or French remains below, St. Joseph’s church commemorating the father of Jesus is very Romanesque style. Hardly “Middle Eastern” is appearance, it harkens back to a fairly recent past in Christian history. However, this Franciscan church contains a cistern, a storage pit and beautiful mosaics in the lower portion or “crypt”. Both of these structures date back to the time of Jesus. To think, the cistern in St. Joseph’s Church could have held the water that Jesus drank. That fact alone, prompts many visiting Christian tourists. The finely sculpted arcs and manicured landscape are a far cry, however, from the dust laden paths that the young Jesus Christ would have traveled.
Though not reminiscent of the historical synagogues frequented by Jesus and his contemporaries, the interior of St. Joseph’s Church boasts high ceilings, long and ornate aisles and polished wooden pews, which would turn any visitor’s gaze to the stunning cross hanging in the front and would start any mind wondering what the Nazareth of Jesus would have looked like. Though Christian tourists will be coming from all different types and denominations, St. Joseph’s Church, albeit mainly a tourist attraction, represents the history of the Roman Catholic Church as it expanded to include the entire world. Regardless of a traveler’s background, St. Joseph’s Church built on the historic workshop of the father of Jesus Christ is definitely worth the travel and time to enjoy.