Saint Joseph Freinademetz was the fourth of 13 children of Giovanmattia and Anna Maria Freinademetz in the Austrian Empire, now a part of Italy. He studied theology and was ordained a priest on July 25, 1875. As a priest, he was assigned to the community not far from his home.
During his studies and the three years after Freinademetz always felt a calling to be a missionary. He contacted Arnold Janssen, founder of the Society of the Divine Word, a missionary order in the Netherlands. With the permission of his parents and his bishop, he moved to the Society of the Divine Word Order in the Netherlands, in August 1878. There he received training as a missionary.
In March 1879, he and Johann Baptist von Anzer boarded a ship to Hong Kong. They arrived five weeks later and stayed there for two years. Freinademetz was based in Sai Kung Peninsula until 1880 and set up a chapel on the island of Yim Tin Tsai in 1879. In 1881 they moved to the Province of Shantung, where they had been assigned. When they arrived, there were 12 million people living in thet province and 158 had been baptized.Freinademetz was very active in the education of Chinese laymen and priests. He wrote a catechism in Chinese. He considered it an important part of their missionary work. In 1898, he was sick with laryngitis and tuberculosis, the bishop and other priests convinced him to go to Japan to recuperate. He returned but was still not fully cured. When Anzer had to leave China for a journey to Europe in 1907, the administration of the diocese was assigned to Freinademetz.
There was an outbreak of typhus at this time. He helped wherever he could until he became ill, and eventually died, on January 28, 1908.