Sometimes the subject of the Holy Family in the carpenter shop is titled “The Sanctity of Labor.” It is more positive to think of work as a blessing than as a punishment. In these scenes when Mary joins her husband and Son she too is shown working or sewing or, as in this case, with a distaff, spinning thread. In spite of His youth Jesus is seen working skillfully under Joseph’s supervision.
In the medallion below are tools. These include the hammer, saw and T-square. The secondary symbols are particularly charming. On the left is a beehive symbolizing cooperation and industry. At the upper right is a sapling tied to a stake, illustrative of the saying: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
The fleur de lis, a heraldic lily, in the lower left border symbolizes the Virgin Mary.
Right Window Pane
When Jesus was twelve, His parents took Him to the Temple in Jerusalem to celebrate the high holy days of the Passover Festival. Imagine the impact of the Holy City on that sensitive bright lad who knew His own destiny. Here at last were the sages who could answer questions like no one in His home town. He could not tear Himself away and the days passed without His being aware of it.
It was the custom for large groups t0 travel together for safety. For this reason Mary and Joseph had traveled a full day toward home before they discovered Jesus was not with the company. They retraced their steps and after three days searching the city found Him in the Temple. The window shows them at that moment. Relief made the mother’s words a little testy: “Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, Thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.”
Below is an open book and a lit lamp. The secondary symbol, the candle, also signifies intellectual and spiritual enlightenment.