In light of the 150th anniversary of Pope Pius IX’s naming Saint Joseph as patron of the universal Church with his 1870 constitution Quemadmodum Deus, Pope Francis has today decreed a ‘Year of Saint Joseph‘, dedicated to the saint, the husband of Mary, the foster-father (nutria) of the Christ child. Quite fitting, in light of the need of the royal clean-up required, under a divine authority figure. So we should pray the manly saint, and emulate his virtues – strength, resilience, courage, determination, and facing what risks come along.
Pius IX said in 1870 in terms of his own motivation:
And now therefore, when in these most troublesome times the Church is beset by enemies on every side, and is weighed down by calamities so heavy that ungodly men assert that the gates of hell have at length prevailed against her, the venerable prelates of the whole Catholic world have presented to the Sovereign Pontiff their own petitions and those of the faithful committed to their charge, praying that he would deign to constitute St. Joseph Patron of the Church. And this time their prayer and desire was renewed by them even more earnestly at the Sacred Ecumenical Council of the Vatican.
If things were bad in 1870, what should we say about now?
We will have more to say on this, but, for now, it seems we need Saint Joseph more than ever –
Sancte Joseph, ora pro nobis!