It derives from the Hebrew יוֹסֵף, which means “May God help increase…” the wealth, number of children, richness, etc. If a Jew reads this post, they can kindly add their more expert comments. I only know that the root (from right to left) starting with the letter “Yod” is a way to indicate God in a pronounceable way.
This was the name of Jesus’s putative father; therefore, it’s common in Christian countries (e.g., “José” in Spain or “Josef” in Germany), but I also met people coming from Muslim countries with this name.
One thing is sure: it’s an ancient name, and it was “exported” almost everywhere during the centuries. There are plenty of Joes in the US, and one of them is trying to rule the world right in this period.
The other second sure thing concerns only myself (but I suppose it might have happened to other people, too): as it’s the name of Jesus’s father, an old priest, during my early childhood, used to repeat me “Giuseppe, il nome santo!”, which means “Giuseppe, the holy name!”
Sincerely, I don’t perceive any holiness (at that moment, I probably thought it was just my grandpa’s name) but rather a sense of frustration thinking about my “poor ancestor.” I still debate about the injustice of the Gospels in his regard.
Think about this young man who’s engaged with a lady (Mary) and discovers he won’t ever be able to be a birth father. On the other hand, he must take care of Jesus, who was often disrespectful.
A famous episode is told in the Gospels when his parents lost him in Jerusalem and, after three days, when they found him, Jesus answered that he had to mind his Father’s (God’s) business! Like saying: “You’re only an intern; the company can replace you in the blink of an eye!”
However, until now, even considering some bizarre episodes, the situation could appear strange but is always verisimilar. He works hard and receives the “holy order” (through an angel) to move quickly in Egypt because Jesus’s life is in danger.
He always obeys with patience. But now there’s a problem: these are the only available information the Gospels provide. Then, the four books continue telling the story of Jesus’s public life, and only Mary is mentioned again. Not a word for this poor man! We can deduce he died, but how come the very Jesus didn’t say anything?
He could remember his putative father, bless him, and thank him for what I did. Instead, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John don’t care. They also could have investigated a little more. It’s also a matter of curiosity!
Nowadays, a journalist reporting the vicissitudes of a story wouldn’t make this silly mistake. At least he can integrate later, for example, when someone asks. But the evangelists certainly do not have that option and could have thought twice before leaving out this detail.
But what can we do with the Gospels? Nothing. And the ones who attend the Mass have to listen year after year to a (boring) sermon where the priest explains why Mary didn’t betray Joseph.
Ok, she didn’t. Ok, on March 19th, the Christian world celebrates St. Joseph. But this isn’t enough for me! He deserved much more attention!
Wrapping everything up, in Italy, my name is familiar, so familiar, and shared to be holy, or maybe it’s the opposite. However, I have doubts that the great composer Verdi or the less significant (in my humble opinion) Garibaldi were called “Giuseppe” because of presumed holiness.
Holiness will likely be an add-on reserved for me, and after 45 years, I still have no interest in exploiting it! I’m open to advice or rental proposals!