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. When our son was gardening at his new house in Orange City NJ he found a Joseph in the garden. It had been left there by an owner before the last one.
    However, I voted for Joanna.

  2. Went for Joanna because she risked a lot to come out to see that Jesus had a proper burial. With all the deaths from the virus and families unable to come together to bury their dead as in the past, I hope we have people like Joanna who will do these unseen tasks of preparing the body for burial.

  3. It was REALLY hard to choose--but that's the point, right? But I went with Joseph, for all those dads who support their families, even without a lot of fanfare.

  4. Tough choice. The early fathers did a great job of masking the fiercely faithful women around Jesus. I'm learning so much. Just a question? Do we pray to Saints or do we ask the Saints to pray for us?

    1. My understanding is that Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox pray to saints, asking them to intercede with God; but Protestants, who believe that no intercession other than Jesus is necessary, do not. For Anglicans it is an option. The practice can and does seem to lead to attributing various powers to the saints themselves, but I believe the official doctrine is that they only intercede and that the power to grant the thing prayed for is God’s alone.

      I would welcome correction or clarification from anyone who knows more about the practice than I do, which isn’t a lot because I don’t personally pursue it.

  5. As father of Jesus, non-judgmental and supportive husband of Mary, and awesome go-to for prayers of intercession, Joseph gets my vote.

  6. Just know that if you bury St. Joseph in the yard for selling your home, you have to find a Joseph that is not holding Jesus! Jesus is Risen!

    1. Great kitsch today, ladies! St. Joseph’s altars are something new for me this Lent Madness—there are photos of some fantastic ones on Pinterest. It’s amazing the things that are made from bread on those altars—crosses and pigs of all things! I am charmed by the idea of sprinkling bread crumbs over it all in memory of the sawdust of Joseph’s workshop.

      Both my dad and husband have made me beautiful things of wood; both are wonderful fathers. But I can’t not vote for Joanna. I am fascinated by the idea of this upper crust lady leaving her privileged life behind and giving her life and money to follow Jesus and stick with him to the glorious end (beginning!). And I think I’m going to have to order that ouija board soap!

  7. St. Joseph is one of my favorite saints. We have a lot in common; for instance, both of our fathers are Jacobs; we both are married to Marys; we are both dreamers; we're both stepfathers.
    I took Joseph as my Confirmation name. I am also attracted to Joseph's humility and obedience.

  8. This was a tough decision. My son's in the midst of selling his house and I'm inclined to purchase a St. Joseph statuette as a gift for him to bury in his back yard. On the other hand, burning an essential oil with myrrh may be more helpful to ease anxiety during this current COVID-19 crisis. With that in mind, I vote for Joanna.

  9. I'm voting for Joanna. It took 3 years to sell our house. St. Joseph's assistance was NOT effective. But Frank Hubbard's story almost swayed me.

  10. Joanna or Joseph - both my namesakes - and Joseph will win the day, but here is why I am going with Joanna - there is a "dogged" quality to Joanna that I love. Even when things got as bad as they could get - Jesus condemned to death, Jesus dying - she was there. She was with Him at the end, she was there at the tomb. There are people in life who don't give up. Who are just determined to be "there", even when things are grim - people who stay with you when things don't look good, people who are there when the worst happens, people who in their dogged, steadfast way, are there to pick up the pieces. They are often not the big heroes we know of, but their steady presence, their determination to just be there with us, gives us comfort, courage and strength. So thank you, Joanna, for just being there.

    1. I'm pretty sure I'm going to vote for Joseph, because I was so moved by Frank Hubbard's story. However, you're giving me second thoughts.

  11. Once again I was torn between the two. Joseph won out, mostly because I was the organist of the Church of St. Joseph of Nazareth. I remember many wonderful sermons about him over the years I served there.

  12. Joanna, though we know little of her, those few mentions depict a potent woman who impacted Jesus’s mission in life. Inspiring and worthy of our vote any day of Lent for sure...
    Now consider Joseph, the man God chose to care for and bring up Lil’ God Incarnate. This morning I’m thinking about Joseph’s unstated departure from the Gospel narrative. It’s exactly as it should be: Joseph decreases as Jesus increases.
    I’m voting for Joseph.

    1. Darn. It didn't work. How do people manage to post photos? Never mind. It was a nativity scene in which Joseph is playing with the baby and Mary is sound asleep on the manger. Adorable. Sorry y'all can't see it.

      1. I love the idea of this! Thanks for describing it even if the photo won't post! ( :

  13. In times of looming unemployment via the pandemic, St. Joseph will called upon through prayers and sermons.

  14. I had already voted when I read Frank 's story, and that served to affirm for me that I had made the right choice.

  15. I voted for Joseph. Couldn't help myself: I'm a father!
    By the way, I heard once in a sermon that we are probably incorrect to think of Joseph as a carpenter. There are so few trees in the Holy Land, he wouldn't have had much wood to work with. I think the Greek word in the original text is something like "teknike," cognate with our technique/technician and designated a person who made things. The speculation offered in the sermon was that Joseph was a stone mason.

    1. What I've heard is that the word usually translated as "carpenter" could also mean "stonemason" -- a multi-talented master craftsman, "blue chip" blue collar worker. As a stone mason, Joseph would have been able to make the stone for a "rolling stone tomb" (looks like a giant "manhole" cover made out of stone). There is such a tomb, carved out of bedrock, in the lower-most level of what is now an archeological site in Nazareth, under what I saw in 1994 was a school for deaf and blind children of all faiths run by the R.C. Sisters of Nazareth. In what was a little village in the First Century, how many master craftsmen would there have been? Which makes that house quite possibly Jesus' boyhood home.

  16. I don't have strong feelings about either. I'm not a believer in praying to saints or performing rituals like burying saints statues upside down, particularly not abusing statues to get them give you what you want. My father was a terrific person who used reason on me instead of spankings. I feel women have been treated badly throughout human history, so I feel I should vote for Joanna, but this time I'm voting in honor of my dad.

  17. A soap ouija board and a bath bomb are hard to beat. Since I own a bakery and married a Joseph I had to roll with Joe. Heading to Etsy now to check out Jo's kitsch.

  18. Poor Joanna has turned into a kitsch machine. Apparently few to none of her nicknacks have any restorative powers. Who would want a myrrh necklace for heavens sake. No, Joseph has the power: lost things, lost souls, carpenters, neglected houses--and I know the Joseph upside down works. That plus repainting the entire interior of the colorful house with one dull color.

  19. I voted for Joseph to honor Chad, who stepped in to raise my granddaughter as his own.

  20. My father's name was Joseph, as was his father, who was born in Prizzi, Sicily, 1886. Dad remembered that he and his father had their own special St Joseph's Day, March 19, celebration. He got to sit alone with his dad, at a special table for dinner. He said it was meant to be fun but he really just wanted to sit with everyone at the big table.

  21. There are actually a number of interesting Orthodox icons of the "myrrh bearers" available through the various outlets such as Uncut Mountain Supply and Skete, so Joanna is getting some of her due over there.

    1. They're too pretty to be kitschy, though! I was thinking of getting one to console myself for what looks like will be Joanna's loss today.

  22. Neva Rae Fox says that red is the color of St. Joseph's Day. Where? I think she's wrong. I've always thought it was white. Joseph wasn't martyred for the faith. My liturgical calendar lists white as the color of the day.

  23. Fantastic job by both celebrity bloggers, but especially on Joanna the Myrrhbearer. Tak about making something from nothing!! I found myself laughing out loud throughout! Thank you. I shall always remember Joanna even if she doesn't get the Golden Halo!

      1. I loved your write-up too! Especially the ending stream of what each item reminds us about Joanna. I'm with Louise - I will always now remember this extraordinary woman.

  24. Thank you, Celebrity Bloggers, for your writing. Just to let you know, though, you eat Sfinci on St. Joseph's Day-the proper name for the canoli cream filled pastry in honor of him. I get them every year and celebrate my Sicilian roots!

    1. Speaking of Sicilian pastries, maybe next year we should try to get St. Agatha on the list just for the sake of those traditional cakes showing up in the kitsch round. I found out about them only last night when a friend sent me a link. At first I thought she was kidding!