The Passionists' Compassion

Mary, the Mother of Jesus


The Silent Years

His long years at Nazareth are called his "hidden life," the years he grew in "wisdom and age and grace," his years with Mary and Joseph. Nazareth was his first and only school; Mary and Joseph his principal teachers. From them, the Son of God made-man learned to speak his first words, in the accent of Galilee. They acquainted him with the ways of the village and the ways of the human heart. Before anyone else, he listened to and learned from Joseph and Mary.

Holy Family

Some renderings inaccurately show the historical setting,
but still express the beatific example of the Holy Family

They taught him to appreciate familiar things from the Galilean hills -- the sower, the shepherd and his sheep, the vineyard, the fig tree. These images later conveyed his deepest thoughts. Ordinary experiences, like watching Mary place a small measure of yeast into flour before baking and seeing it rise, gave him earthy images to describe the remarkable ways the kingdom of God touches all things. He learned the skills of carpentry and the discipline of hard work at Joseph's side.

Joseph, Mary and Jesus seldom went beyond their village and the neighboring fields. Their home was one simple room, used for work by day and as a bedroom by night. In the limestone floor were small openings into grain silos, carved for storage out the rock below floor level. On the wall, a niche for an oil lamp, the only light in the windowless room. On summer days, a shelter of branches shaded the flat roof above.

Though Jerusalem was the center of Jewish worship, the Jews of Galilee made the 80-mile journey to the Temple only for the great pilgrimage feasts of Passover, Pentecost and the Tabernacles. Their faith was nourished in their home and in the local synagogue. There at Nazareth, Jesus grew to know his own Jewish traditions.


after the death of Joseph