Saint Joseph, Terror of Demons

One of the more frequent requests that I get is, “Do you have any pictures of Saint Joseph, the Terror of Demons?”

I think this is because people have a natural fear of demons themselves, since demons are terrifying, and so it’s comforting to envision a saint destroying demons. Plus, in the Litany of Saint Joseph, one of the titles he is given is Saint Joseph, the Terror of Demons.

And so, for today, I would like to feature a picture of Saint Joseph, the terror of demons!

Saint Joseph and the Christ Child, by Guido Reni, c. 1640. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas.
Saint Joseph and the Christ Child, by Guido Reni, c. 1640. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas.

Not what you were hoping for? How about this image?

St Joseph Leading the Christ Child, by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, c. 1670s. Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
St Joseph Leading the Christ Child, by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, c. 1670s. Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.

Still not what you were expecting??

Honestly, it’s not surprising! You see, when we picture of someone who is the “terror of demons” we automatically think of pictures of someone who is even more terrifying than what we would consider a demon. And, since demons are terrifying, we think that whatever is a terror of a demons has to look even more terrifying than a demon.

But that’s not the case! You see, demons are terrifying creatures. We are mere humans. We can never out-terrify a demon by ourselves. Nor are we going to out-scare a demon by ourselves. Demons are not scared of us humans! They know that they can scare us far more than we can scare them.

But you know what they are scared of?

God.

They are terrified of God.

And, when we are obedient to God… when we listen to God and obey God, despite every obstacle that comes away… when we love God and follow Him, even when everything seems hopeless… that’s when we terrify the demons.

And doesn’t Saint Joseph embody that? Doesn’t his whole life of humility and obedience scream that of love for God?

When he was engaged with Mary and then she suddenly became pregnant, he tried to divorce her quietly, likely because of his fear that he would not be a good enough for her. Yet, a dream from God set his resolve and he married her, despite everything.

The Marriage of the Virgin, by Vittore Carpaccio, c. 1502-04. Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan, Italy.
The Marriage of the Virgin, by Vittore Carpaccio, c. 1502-04. Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan, Italy.

And his dreams! Through listening to his dreams, which were sent to him from God, he was faithful to the dreams, even when following those dreams probably felt terrifying to accomplish.

The Dream of Saint Joseph, by Nicolas Bertin, c. 18th century. Private collection.
The Dream of Saint Joseph, by Nicolas Bertin, c. 18th century. Private collection.

He even showed God that he was willing to go to the ends of the world… and back… if God asked him to do so, as he did in the Flight to Egypt.

Flight into Egypt, by Eugène Girardet, c. 19th century. Private collection.
Flight into Egypt, by Eugène Girardet, c. 19th century. Private collection.

If there’s any saint that knows how to completely submit to God, it is Saint Joseph. While he might never have said a word that was recorded in the gospel, his faithfulness and devotion to God are evident in the gospel.

This is one man who, despite all the obstacles that were thrown at him, would always remain humble to God. Even when everything seemed grim.

And this is why he is the terror of demons.

And it’s not because he is scary. Absolutely not!

No, it was his devotion to God and his love for Jesus that made him the terror of demons.

Saint Joseph with the Christ Child, by Marcantonio Franceschini, c. 1648 - 1729. Private collection.
Saint Joseph with the Christ Child, by Marcantonio Franceschini, c. 1648 – 1729. Private collection.

St. Joseph, Terror of Demons, pray for us!

Karina Tabone

Karina Tabone is a wife, mother of four, author, blogger, and lover of Christian artwork. She's the author of the Illustrated Rosary series, which pairs every prayer of the Rosary with beautiful religious artwork. She likes also milkshakes, sunshine, and mystery novels. Follow her on Twitter at @illustr_prayer.

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