In the Gospel of Luke we read,
The Angel Gabriel was sent to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph …
Mary gives her fiat then sets off to visit her cousin Elizabeth who she is informed is also pregnant.
In art, Mary is often pictured by herself at the door of Elizabeth’s home. When thoughtful minds think about this, a young, pregnant woman traveling five or more days over bandit-infested roads, the standard answer is she was probably accompanied by an elderly matron.
For the moment, let’s be more thoughtful.
How will an elderly matron protect Mary from harm?
Mary was espoused to Joseph.
Joseph was selected by God the Father to be the Husband and Guardian of Mary.
Mary tells Joseph she intends to visit Elizabeth to help her and to celebrate God’s blessing to her.
So according to the elderly matron theory, Joseph agrees to allow her to walk three days along dangerous roads escorted by an older woman while he remains home.
Another point – Joseph is also related to Elizabeth but he decides to not join in the celebration of the good news for Zachary and Elizabeth.
If this was your relative what would think of him?
What a loser! I feel sorry for Mary being stuck with that guy!
Let’s remember that Joseph is the par excellent example of what a real man should be. He was given that grace by God Himself so he would be a suitable spouse to the Virgin and foster-father to His Son.
Joseph remaining in Nazareth while Mary travels to Hebron just doesn’t sound right.
Saint Bernadine of Siena and Saint Bernard both insisted that Joseph accompanied Mary. They taught how blessed was the house of Zachary to have the entire Holy Family present for the birth of John. Saint Francis de Sales, founder of the Sisters of the Visitation of Holy Mary, also insisted that Joseph went with Mary.
As a Catholic, when we read the Bible, we must submit ourselves to the teachings of Holy Mother Church. But that does not prevent us from using our minds to seek out what the Bible does not say. We cannot change any part of the Faith, neither adding nor taking away, but we are permitted to try to fill in the blanks.
The Bible does not say Joseph went with Mary nor does it explicitly state he remained behind. Thus, it is left to us to decide.
Would the man chosen by God to be the Head of the Holy Family allow anyone else to escort Mary on her journey to Elizabeth?
It does not seem likely in my mind. When Mary visited Elizabeth Joseph was at her side.
Dennis P McGeehan is the author of The Diaries of Joseph and Mary, a book based on the teachings of the Early Church Fathers.