Joanna the Myrrhbearer vs. Joseph

Congratulations! You survived the first go-round of saintly kitsch. Which is more than we can say for Herman of Alaska who lost to Harriet Tubman 61% to 39% to claim the first spot in the Faithful Four.

Next up is Joanna the Myrrhbearer vs. Joseph as they vie to represent the Biblical quadrant in the next round. To make it to this point, Joanna defeated Junia and Bartimaeus, while Joseph took down Joshua and Elizabeth. Now, some saints have lend themselves to kitsch more easily than others. Today's matchup is a perfect example of the feast and famine nature of the Elate Eight. But this is why we employ such talented Celebrity Bloggers who, at times, must tap into their unceasing creativity to bring the kitsch.

Oh, and PLEASE don't forget that you can read all the great information posted by our Celebrity Bloggers in previous rounds by heading over to the handy Bracket tab. Time to vote!

Joanna the Myrrhbearer

Since “hardly anyone knows Joanna” the Myrrhbearer, there is hardly any saintly kitsch associated with her.

There are just a handful of icons and medals available for purchase on Etsy, including blocks bearing her cartoon image so you can make sure the next generation gets to know her better: how she left a life of luxury to follow Jesus to the margins after he may have healed her, how she helped bankroll Jesus’ ministry, how she was present at Jesus’ death, how she may have been a leader in the early church.

But there is plenty of myrrh to be found on the internet, so let’s take a look at the thing with which Joanna is most identified.

Joanna is known as the myrrhbearer because she was one of the women following Jesus who went to prepare his body for burial and found it missing on Easter morning. One of the spices and perfumes the women would have brought with them is myrrh, an earthy-scented resin extracted from a number of small, thorny trees. It has long been used as perfume, as medicine and as part of religious ceremonies.

Myrrh is mentioned throughout the Bible, making appearances at Jesus’ birth, given to him by the Magi, and at his death, offered to him as a painkiller mixed with wine as he was being crucified.

Nowadays you can get myrrh resin or essential oils from Etsy, Amazon or your college friend’s multilevel marketing business. It’s touted for everything from setting a meditative mood when burned or diffused to preventing aging when applied in skin creams.

Among the myrrh products you can buy to commemorate Joanna:

A “Christmas necklace” of myrrh resin bottled with frankincense and gold so you, too, can be a myrrhbearer wherever you go.

Notice Me myrrh and frankincense body cream in the hopes Joanna might finally be noticed in the text and celebrated for her contributions to the church.

A myrrh and frankincense-scented candle in a votive printed with the opening words of the Virgin Mary’s Magnificat — “My soul magnifies the Lord” — for when you feel like celebrating all the fiercely faithful women of the Gospel.

A golden myrrh and frankincense-scented bath bomb to unwind after several hundred years of being overlooked in church history.

And, finally, myrrh and frankincense-scented soap in the shape of a Ouija board and planchette to cleanse your spirit and perhaps conjure Joanna in order to hear more of her story — and put that whole Junia thing to rest (not advised).

Emily Miller


Selling a house or property? St. Joseph is your go-to guy. Just bury a statue of St. Joseph upside down on the property and voila! – your house will be sold.

Have a headache, fever, or other pain? Take care of that hurt with St. Joseph’s aspirin.

Looking for a job? There’s a prayer to St. Joseph for that.  In fact, there are prayers to St. Joseph for many occasions and events.

St. Joseph’s feast day is March 19 and celebrations abound. Red is the color of the day, so don crimson clothing, and decorate your home and business in hues of red.  For March 19, prepare your St. Joseph’s altar, which includes flowers – usually lilies – wine, fruit, candles, and fava beans. Add a few breadcrumbs, symbolic of St. Joseph’s carpenter dust. It’s an annual big community event in New Orleans; sadly, the public St. Joseph’s altars were cancelled in 2020 because of COVID-19.

The menu on his feast day features lots of zeppoles, a yummy cream filled pastry that is a traditional St. Joseph’s Day Italian treat, along with figs, cookies, and lots of fruit.

His image graces just about any surface that is available: medals, cards, statues of all sizes, icons, ties, posters, artwork by the great masters, books, t-shirts – the list is endless.

Wear your favorite St. Joe’s athletic gear to cheer on the Philadelphia college’s basketball team through its March Madness events. Sadly, this year’s March Madness – which (surprise surprise) is held simultaneously with Lent Madness – has been called because of COVID-19.


Holy cards are available depicting St. Joseph’s appearance in two well-known visions: with Mary at Fatima, Portugal 1917 and in Knock, Ireland in 1879.

St. Joseph can be your companion throughout this pandemic. Although he is a major figure in countless movies, there are a few dedicated to his story, which you can order and binge during this confinement time: Joseph of Nazareth (2000); Joseph of Nazareth: The Story of the Man Closest to Christ (2009); and St. Joseph (2018) – it’s not really about St Joseph, but about two NJ families, one of whom calls upon St Joseph for a favor….

Or sing your choice of songs about St Joseph: Dear St. Joseph, kind and true, I have lessons I must do. They are for your Foster Son. Help me till the work is done.

The “terror of demons,” St. Joseph is the patron saint of fathers, stepparents, carpenters, families, realtors, pastry chefs, numerous cities and countries.

And in this sad time of COVID –19, pray to St. Joseph if you are in doubt, or are hesitating, or if you are in harm’s way and need protection, or in need, or in trouble. Pray to St. Joseph for a peaceful, happy death.

— Neva Rae Fox


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129 comments on “Joanna the Myrrhbearer vs. Joseph”

    1. OK, now I'll be singing the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical all day.
      Life could be worse!

  1. Totally down with Joseph. He is frequently overlooked and he was a good man. Not too many all around good guys in the Bible!

    1. Amen. And a quick story. When I was in college, I taught Sunday School. A friend of mine was studying Art History, and I recruited him to come one of the Sundays in Advent and show slides (remember slides?) of classic paintings of the Holy Family. He showed pictures of Mary, Mary and the infant Jesus, Mary, Elizabeth, Jesus, John the Baptist,. After a while, we heard this anguished plea from a little boy, "Where's Joseph!!? " My friend whispered to me, "I don't have many with him in the picture." "But he was, historically, "in the picture", I said." So in the subsequent pictures, the class and I described the sort of responsible, loving things Joseph must have been doing to care for the family which led him not to be included in the painting: getting firewood to keep everyone warm, going to work, getting groceries while Mary nursed Jesus, preparing for the flight into Egypt, etc. The kids got into it. But I've wondered since if there was no "Joseph" in the life of that little boy. Far too many kids don't have a loving, responsible man in their lives. Let's celebrate the guys who do show up for their families in good ways by celebrating Joseph.

      1. I was voting for Joseph anyway, but your story brought tears to my eyes! Thank you! Celebrate the things dad and stepdads do every day, large and small, vote for Joseph!

        1. Word for word what Lori said...I suspect you are won of the good guys you mentioned....

        2. My dad was a “Joseph.” Not his name, but he was a wonderful man who quietly did things for the betterment of his family. He did everything without any fanfare. We lost him 34 years ago, and reading the above about St. Joseph reminded me of him.

        3. Agreed , Lorie. Well said all around. I love the story of Joanna (and those little blocks are fabulous) and would be happy for either of these saints, but the love and care by Joseph for Jesus and Mary is truly reflective of God’s love for us and all of creation. Joseph for the Golden Halo!

      2. I voted for Joanna largely to support all the women of our tradition who have been overlooked/ shoved aside by the men who have hogged the spotlight. But I'm good with Joseph, too, as I'm a step-dad.

        I can also say about Frank Hubbard that he is indeed one of the good guys in the mold of Joseph, as Pamela Duncan proposed above. In his retirement from full-time priestly ministry, I'm blessed that Frank decided to hang his hat in the parish I serve as Rector. He has led Kid Friendly Eucharists when I've been on vacation. In what he calls the reclaiming of his baptismal ministry, he reads to kids in the pediatric waiting room of an area low-income health clinic; he also plays with/reads to/babysits kids of abused women in an area shelter while moms are in group meetings with the staff. And by all accounts, he is a topnotch grandfather.

        1. Oh how lovely to know this about Frank - talk about walking in the way of Joseph!!

      3. Love this reminiscence, Frank . What a generous and loving person you are. I was voting for Joseph anyway but your anecdote affirmed my thought. Especially liked your final “dedication” - you are so right. God bless you.

      4. Joseph also might not be in many pictures if he, like my dad, was always the one taking the pictures 🙂

  2. I voted for Joanna the myrrh Bearer just because she's not that well-known and everybody knows about Joseph. And I like the smell of myrrh incense when it burns

  3. Difficult to choose, although both have significant roles, as there really isn't a lot of verifiable background for either. Still I will go with Joanna, who administered to the body of Jesus. She must have loved him as deeply as the other women followers at that time.

  4. I was going to vote for Joanna but somehow Joseph stole my heart this morning. One question has always bothered me though - why bury the statue upside down when trying to sell your house? Anecdotally, it seems to have helped my sister in a buyers market years ago but why the indignity of upside down?

    1. My guess about the rationale for burying St. Joseph upside down is that he’ll in more of a hurry to get the house sold so he can be put rightside up. Worked for my Episcopalian mother. Thank you, St. Joseph!

      1. worked for me sell my house....I looked to retrieved the statue but cold not find it. .......Joseph gets my vote...carpenter, visionary, willing to be redirected, to be flexible and face the circumstances of following call....

      2. Brief web search says you're right, and even says it originated in a tradition of abusing the saints to get them to help you. Doesn't sound like the most effective strategy, to me!

    2. Yes, it worked for me, too. But I put him in a plastic bag so he wouldn't get dirty. Don't know why he must be upside down, however. And you just have to remember to dig him up before you move!!

    3. Thanks Frank. I think that's enough to push me over the voting edge to Joseph. Staying safe?

    4. Often wondered that myself. I had Jewish friend who were trying to sell their house for quite a while. Another friend, a Roman deacon, told them the St. Joseph story --they did it and the house got sold almost immediately.

    5. My sister gave me a St Joseph statue when we were selling our house but I could never quite bring myself to bury him. I let him preside from a high shelf with a nice view over the water in front. It took a long time for our house to sell but it was ultimately perfect timing, for which I credit Joseph. I think that there is no need for burying to be part of the recipe. I had never had any prior experience of traditions around the intercession of saints, but I found Joseph's quiet presence surprisingly supportive during the whole process.

      1. Can’t tell you why St. Joseph is supposed to be buried upside down, but I do know that when the home is sold, he is supposed to be placed in a place of honor in the new home!

  5. Go Joe! He had all the faith and trust and hope in the world! And I like him at his workbench with the hammer. That medal used to be my best seller. Now it's a bit of a dud but I love Joe. Go Joe!

  6. Kudos to both celebrity bloggers today for their highly entertaining kitsch collections.

  7. When we sold our house, by chance our realtor published its listing ON St. Joseph's feast day, and it was under contract to a buyer in less than a week.

  8. I was going to vote for Joanna, Who quietly supported the ministry, but the great write-up of all the solutions to problems people attribute to St. Josesph I decided to vote for a peaceful death.

    1. You are branching out from cocktail recipes! Those zeppoles sound scrumptious. And now you have me worried. St. C is sick? Please take care of yourself!

    2. Yeah, that “peaceful, happy death” thing! Oh, Neva! Made me laugh in horror and cast my vote for St. Joseph, dad of dads and pop of pops.

  9. Difficult choice, but I went with Joanna, to elevate the untold stories of so many biblical women. My dad, a carpenter (though named William), had the exact kitschy necktie pictured. That swayed me a bit toward a vote for Joseph, but Joanna and women everywhere won in the end.

  10. Last Fall before the ground froze, I buried a statue of St. Joseph in our front yard for aide in selling our Vermont home. The house was listed on a Thursday afternoon and we signed a contract Saturday. My vote is for St. Joseph.

  11. In honor of Ralph and Bob - 2 of the best stepfather I have ever met in person, I vote for St Joe.

  12. Here's a little kitch humor. A close friend, an Episocopal priest, gave us a plastic St. Joseph statue she bought on-line to help us sell our house. We did everything right: buried him upside down in the flower garden in front of the house, faced him toward the house, etc. Every morning I would find him unear
    thed and tossed aside on the ground. We figured it was either a raccoon or a squirrel - once he was taken up the driveway before dropped. So, I hid him deep in a pot of geraniums by the front door, and guess what, we sold the house.

  13. I hate to once again overlook a fellow female follower of Jesus, but I must vote for the good father, remembering my own good father.

  14. "Your college friend’s multilevel marketing business": that's a different herb, Emily, associated more with the stoners than with the stoned. I voted for Joanna purely for the kitsch and for Emily's magnificent effort to create a kitsch world for Joanna ex nihilo. Having been consumed this week with putting an entire course online, with long meetings in Zoom, with long meetings in Zoom to learn Zoom, I do not pray for a peaceful and happy death. If death comes, I hope it comes instantly, and is not latent in this cold I have. Did I pick up an invisible colored-circle-undead-pest from the xerox machine or my refrigerator handle? If I am now unknowingly among the walking dead, I want to spend my last hacking breaths among the "fiercely faithful women of the Gospel."
    Also, here's a recipe for zeppole (basically fritters), from Jill Paradiso on the Food Republic site:
    • 1 cup flour
    • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1 cup ricotta
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 eggs, well beaten
    • Powdered sugar, for garnish
    • Vegetable vegetable oil for frying
    1. Pour about 2 inches of oil into a 3-quart pot and heat over medium-high flame.
    2. Combine all dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.
    3. Add in eggs, vanilla and ricotta and stir to fully incorporate. The consistency will be like a thick batter.
    4. When oil is hot (about 375 degrees), start frying in small batches of 3 or 4 at a time using about 1 tablespoon of batter for each zeppola. The batter will puff up when dropped in the hot oil.
    5. Fry about 3 minutes or until deeply and evenly browned on all sides, flipping over about half way through.
    6. Transfer fried zeppole to paper towels to absorb excess oil and garnish liberally with powdered sugar.
    7. Zeppole are best when warm, but can be served up to 2-3 hours after cooking.

    1. Thanks for this recipe! I think I'll mark my calendar to hold a zeppole frying party next March 19!

    2. There are at least three multi-level marketing businesses whose sales are focused on essential oils. I don't think she was referring to that "other herb" in this context,

  15. Kitsch: Joseph, I might have to sell my house some day. As for the myrrh, I suspect the one who embalms my body will take care of that.

  16. Both of today’s Saints are often relegated to the background and are under appreciated. I voted for Joanna for her strong faith in following Jesus and her love, respect and care for his body after death. In this time of pandemic, I am especially mindful of all the caregivers who are risking their own lives to provide care, comfort, and compassion to so many.

    1. Thanks to all caregivers this 2020, and always, but especially this 2020!
      Women in the Bible and even now, were underestimated and expected to do whatever, without praise!Has anything changed in this year of our Lord 2020?
      My vote is still for the under praised Joanna for her strength and conviction to do whatever to care for the one she so loved JESUS!

  17. Good job, Emily Miller, on finding some "kitsch" for Joanna! I appreciate and admire Joanna, but voted for Joseph because ultimately, his life had the bigger impact on Jesus (and consequently, we followers of Jesus). Phew, that was a run-on sentence almost worthy of some of Paul's Epistles!

  18. This competition is unfair for poor Joanna. I really like Joanna and want to vote for her, but she can't compete with the father of Jesus. Martha

  19. I was heading toward a vote for Joanna until I noticed, and read, the prayer to Joseph for employment on the card in the bio. Go back and read it, if you missed it: it’s quite beautiful and speaks so directly to this moment.

  20. Hey, y’all! Let’s have a rally for Joanna the unknown. Joseph (the man) gets all the attention again. Joanna has waited far too long to be in the spotlight. All the way with Joanna.

  21. I voted for Joseph, have him in the final, but I love Emily's image of using the bath bomb to overcome centuries of neglect in church history. Made me chuckle today. And I REALLY need to chuckle.

  22. Oh, my goodness! The Celebrity Bloggers have done a real number today! Joanna's 'stuff' gave me a giggle and Joseph's devotionals spoke to special moments in my life. What to do, what to do?