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Solemnity of Saint Joseph

March 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Liz Estler, Saints and Blesseds, Solemnity

Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Husband of Mary


St Joseph is the Patron of Unborn Children, Protector of Childhood, Protector of Spouses, Protector of the Family, Patron of Fathers, Patron of Immigrants and Workers, Patron of Employment, Patron of Carpenters and of Realtors, Protector of Virgins, Protector of Fugitives, Patron against Doubt and Hesitation, Protector of the Dying, Patron of a Happy Death, and Patron of Canada, Croatia, Korea, Vietnam, and many others.

Although devotion to St Joseph was slow getting started in the Church, it has grown throughout the centuries. There is reference to him in early patristic writings, with pious and liturgical devotion to him recorded with certainty in the 7th century.  It was, however, not until the 13th century that a full liturgical Office was established for him.* Then, in 1870, he was named Patron of the Universal Church by Blessed Pius IX in his decree Quemadmodum Deus.

And, from then on, the Papal Magisterium, except for Pope John Paul I who was only Pope for 33 days, had a lot to say about St Joseph:

  • Pope Leo XIII devoted Quamquam Pluries, an entire encyclical on Devotion to St Joseph in 1889.
  • St Pius X exalted “the illustrious putative father and patriarch St. Joseph, husband of the Pure Virgin Mother and powerful patron of the Catholic Church before God.”** He composed a prayer to St Joseph, approved the Litany to St Joseph and canonically recognized the Pious Union of St Joseph.
  • Pope Benedict XV issued a moto proprio Bonum Sane on the 50th anniversary of St Joseph being proclaimed Patron of the Universal Church.
  • Pope Pius XI invoked St Joseph as a protector against communism in paragraph 81 of his encyclical Divini Redemptoris.
  • Venerable Pius XII instituted the optional memorial of St Joseph the Worker on May 1 (there was a feast of St Joseph the Carpenter on old Coptic calendars of the 8th and 9th centuries) and composed a prayer to St Joseph Model of Workers.
  • St John XXIII invoked St Joseph’s protection on the Second Vatican Council and summarized the work of his predecessors above.** St John XXIII also had St Joseph’s name added to our Eucharistic Prayer number I in 1962.
  • Blessed Paul VI extolled St Joseph in his homily on the Feast of St Joseph.
  • Pope John Paul II wrote, Redemptoris CustosThe Guardian of the Redeemer“, an apostolic exhortation on St Joseph.
  • Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, whose name was Joseph before becoming Pope, spoke regularly about St Joseph, such as during his Angelus address in St Peter’s Square on December 18, 2005.
  • And, of course, St Joseph is a favorite of Pope Francis, who gave his first inaugural homily on March 19, 2013. Through the decree Paternas vices (“Fatherly care”), he promulgated, via the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the adding of St. Joseph’s name to Eucharistic Prayers II, III and IV.  The statuette of St Joseph which lies on a chest of drawers outside Pope Francis’ room at St Martha’s house, where he lives, is the same one he had in Argentina.  And, he often slips prayer requests under the statue.  As the Pope told some after his election, “You know, you have to be patient with these carpenters: they tell you they’ll have a piece of furniture finished in a couple of weeks and it ends up taking a month even. But they get the job done and they do it well! You just need to be patient…”
  • As well, many saints have also had a great devotion to St Joseph, including Teresa of Avila, whose frequent advice was “Go to Joseph!”

We don’t know too much about Christ’s foster father, but we do know a few things. Guardian and head of the Holy Family, Scripture tells us St Joseph was a just man (sf Matthew 1:19) and a carpenter (sf Matthew 13:55), a techton (worker in wood) in the Greek, and was spoken to by angels in his dreams (sf Matthew 1:20, 2:13, 2:19).

Although St Joseph, himself, is not quoted in Scripture, we know he did speak a very important word. As St. John Paul II tells us:

“At the circumcision Joseph names the child “Jesus.” This is the only name in which there is salvation (cf. Acts 4:12). Its significance had been revealed to Joseph at the moment of his “annunciation”: ‘You shall call the child Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins’ (cf. Mt 1:21). In conferring the name, Joseph declares his own legal fatherhood over Jesus, and in speaking the name he proclaims the child’s mission as Savior” (Redemptoris Custos, paragraph 12).

Just like the Blessed Virgin Mary, he is a model of kindness, obedience, faith, humility, patience, service, selflessness, faithfulness, and a model of the contemplative, hidden, interior life, ever abandoned to the will of God, a very hidden collaborator in the work of the Redemption.

During this year of mercy, we would do well to remember that St Joseph appeared to St Faustina Kowalska, the Apostle of Mercy, and urged her to have great devotion to him.

O Saint Joseph,
Foster Father of Jesus Christ and True Spouse of the Virgin Mary,
pray for us and for the suffering and dying of this day/night. Amen.
Short and powerful prayer of the Pious Union of St Joseph

* Name of Saint Joseph in the Eucharistic Prayers, USCCB website.

**Apostolic Letter of St John XXIII for the protection of St Joseph on the Second Vatica Council.


Art: Father and Son, Corbert Gauthier, copyright 2002, used with permission.

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About Liz Estler

Editor, Liz holds a Master of Arts in Ministry Degree (St. John's Seminary, Brighton, Massachusetts), Liturgy Certificate (Boston Archdiocese), and a BS degree in Biology and Spanish (Nebraska Wesleyan University - Lincoln). She has served as hospital chaplain associate, sacristan, translator and in other parish ministries. She was a regular columnist for a military newspaper in Europe and has been published in a professional journal. She once waded in the Trevi Fountain!

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  • Philip George Regan

    I’m curious as to how people might chose to pray to Saint Joseph ?

    Certainly Saint Faustina was told by Saint Joseph to pray the Memorare to Saint Joseph every day to ensure his protection given the importance of the Divine Mercy Mission.
    The Memorare to Saint Joseph consists of an Our Father ,Hail Mary , Glory Be then

    “Remember, O most chaste spouse of the Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who implored your help and sought your intercession were left unassisted. Full of confidence in your power I fly unto you and beg your protection.
    Despise not O Guardian of the Redeemer my humble supplication, but in your bounty, hear and answer me.” Amen.

    • LizEst

      Glad you asked, Philip George! There are many prayers here: Of course, you could always use your own words!

      God bless you! Happy Solemnity!

    • Patricia

      Memorare to St. Joseph
      Remember, O most illustrious Patriarch St. Joseph, on the testimony of St. Theresa, thy devoted servant, hat never has it been heard that anyone who invoked thy protection or sought thy assistance has not obtained relief. In this confidence, I come to thee, my loving protector, chaste spouse of Mary, foster father of the Savior of men and dispenser of the treasures of His Most Sacred Heart. Despise not my prayer, but graciously hear and answer my petition: …….. Amen.

  • Patricia

    “St. Joseph, how I love him! What does me a lot of good when I think of the Holy Family is to imagine a life that was very ordinary, just like our own.” -St. Therese of Lisieux

    St. Joseph is also mentioned in the Divine Praises at Benediction.

  • Curt

    Please look at the artwork you are using more closely.
    This artwork of Mary looks ridiculous. She looks like an 8 year old.
    What we don’t need is anti Catholics seeing St. Joseph as being portrayed as a child molester.

    • LizEst

      Curt — You are too funny! Mary isn’t even in our artwork for this post, today. Perhaps you are thinking that the young Jesus is Mary in this picture (notice that the title — see the art citation at the bottom of the post– is “Father and Son” and Christ is wearing a traditional headdress). Either you have mistaken Jesus for Mary…or, you must be thinking of some other site. Please be careful!

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