While the Church has always honored Saint Joseph as the spouse of Mary and protector of Jesus, in modern times especially, he has been given special homage as the patron of workers by several popes.
In 1889, Pope Leo XIII issued a caution against the false promises of what he called “seditious men” and encouraged workers to focus instead on the role and guidance of Saint Joseph. He wrote that Saint Joseph’s aid to workers was their “special right, and his example is for their particular imitation.” In his encyclical Quamquam Pluries, he wrote that “the condition of the lowly has nothing shameful in it, and the work of the laborer is not only not dishonoring, but can, if virtue be joined to it, be singularly ennobled.”
In 1920, Pope Benedict XV asked that Saint Joseph protect laborers and “keep them immune from the contagion of socialism, the bitter enemy of Christian principles,” calling Joseph the “special guide” and “heavenly patron” of workers.
In 1937, in his encyclical Divini Redemptoris, Pope Pius XI placed “the vast campaign of the Church against world Communism under the standard of St. Joseph, her mighty Protector.”
In 1955, Pope Pius XII established the Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker to be celebrated on May 1, the traditional day for communist rallies. In his proclamation, he wrote: “If you want to be close to Christ, I repeat to you ‘It ad Ioseph’: Go to Joseph!”
In 1989, Pope Saint John Paul II issued Redemptory’s Custos, an apostolic exhortation on the role of Saint Joseph in both the life of Christ and the life of the Church.
And finally, in 2020, Pope Francis declared the Year of Saint Joseph and shared some of his own reflections on the saint.
Each of these popes has recognized the importance Saint Joseph plays, not only in the history of salvation but also in the ongoing mission of the Church.
“Each of us can discover in Joseph—the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence—an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble.” –Pope Francis
May Saint Joseph guide and protect all those who turn to him in time of need. Amen.
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