The St. Joseph church is built where, according to tradition, used to be the carpentry workshop of Joseph, father of Jesus. Some of the traditions also claim this was Joseph's house.
This Franciscan church was established in 1914 over the ruins of more ancient churches and is located in the Basilica of Annunciation area. In the crypt (the lower level of the church) there’s an ancient water pit, mosaics, caves and barns from ancient Nazareth that has survived since the 1st and 2nd centuries B.C. One of the cave, according to tradition, was used as Joseph's workshop.
The church also reflects the Jewish roots of Christianity: in the past, the Christian prayers has accepted the Jewish bathe commandment and built ritual baths in the church to do so.
Description of the Church
The church is built in a Neo Romanski style, based on the foundations of the ancient Crusader church. It has 3 long halls ending with 3 enceintes on the east, built over Crusaders’ remains. The stairs are leading to the lower floor, where there’s crypt holding archeological remains from the Nazareth village times as well as the cave used as Joseph's workshop.
In 1950 the apses were decorated by an Italian artist. The main picture shows the holy family and an additional one is of Joseph only. Around the podium there’s an additional picture of the holy family. The windows decorations tell the story of the place as well.
History of the Church
The Crusaders built this church on the 12th century over earlier remains of another church from the Byzantine Times. This church was not commemorating the house of Joseph. this was probably a later tradition.
The Crusader Church was built in a style that was common in France in the 12th century: it had 3 arched enceintes and was divided to one big hall and 2 wings in a cross shape. The crypt on the lower level of the church was not changed during Crusader time.
After the Arabic occupation in the 13th century, the place was left in ruins for hundreds of years. In 1754 it was purchased by the Franciscans and they have built a chapel for St. Joseph. Later on, the Franciscans have managed to purchase the area surrounding the church as well. In 1908, archeological excavations were done there by Father Prof. Veo, who discovered the remains of the Byzantine Church from the 5th or 6th century.
He published his findings in the book "Nazareth and its Two Entrances", written in French. The foundations for building the church on this specific spot was the cave in the crypt, which was used as a residency cave on earlier times.