Marriage of Mary
Domenico Ghirlandaio, c. 1486 – 1490
Santa Maria Novella Basilica, Florence, Italy
You give the Church the joy of celebrating the feast of the Holy Spouses, Mary and Joseph: in her, full of grace and worthy Mother of your Son, you signify the beginning of the Church, the resplendently beautiful bride of Christ; you chose him, the wise and faithful servant, as Husband of the Virgin Mother of God, and made him head of your family, to guard as a father your only Son, conceived by the work of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Preface to the Mass, Feast of the Espousals of Mary and Joseph
Today is the lesser-known Feast of the Espousals of Mary and Joseph. It is also known as the Feast of the Holy Spouses.
This feast was first celebrated on August 29, 1517, when Pope Leo X granted the Nuns of the Annunciation permission to do so. In the 19th and 20th century, permission was given for this feast to be celebrated on January 23, though this varies in different parts of the world. This feast is not on the universal liturgical calendar of the Church and is typically celebrated at various shrines dedicated to St Joseph.
St John Paul II, in his apostolic exhortation, Redemptoris Custos, discusses the importance of St Joseph in the Holy Family. The marriage of Joseph and Mary is the prototype and model of Christian marriage and an example of the profound union of hearts and spousal self-gift that is meant to be the reality of all married couples.