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Pope Francis Proclaims 2021 as Special Year of St. Joseph

Inspired by the pandemic, the Pope likens St. Joseph to medical workers who are working quietly in these troubled times.

In celebration of the 150th anniversary of Blessed Pope Pius IX’s declaration of St. Joseph as Patron Saint of the Universal Church, Pope Francis has proclaimed a special “Year of St. Joseph,” which began on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception 2020 and will end on the same day in 2021.

In his apostolic letter Patris corde (“With a Father’s Heart”), Pope Francis describes St. Joseph as a beloved father. He says that the saint is a tender, loving, obedient, and accepting father. He added that St. Joseph is creatively courageous— a working father in the shadows. (Read: Prayer to St. Joseph After the Rosary)

Year of St. Joseph

The declaration was inspired by the Pope’s reflections on the current pandemic, where he likened St. Joseph to medical workers and other frontliners who are working quietly during these troubled times.

“They understood that no one is saved alone… How many people daily exercise patience and offer hope, taking care to spread not panic, but shared responsibility,” the Pope said. (Read: Church Dedicates ‘Red Wednesday’ to Frontliners, COVID-19 Victims)

“Each of us can discover in Joseph— the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet, and hidden presence— an intercessor, support, and guide in times of trouble,” he added. “St. Joseph reminds us that those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an incomparable role in the history of salvation. A word of recognition and of gratitude is due to them.”

A crucifix and a statue of St. Joseph are seen in the library of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican Aug. 26, 2020. (Photo from Vatican Media / Catholic News Service)

Protector of Mary and Jesus

The Pope also reiterated the role of Joseph as the protector of Mary and Jesus, wherein he became an instrument to God’s plans through his sacrifice, patience, and trust.

“Joseph found happiness not in mere self-sacrifice, but in self-gift. In him, we never see frustration but only trust. His patient silence was the prelude to concrete expressions of trust,” the Pope said. (Read: 5 Saints Who Are Also Real-Life Parents)

“Our world today needs fathers. It has no use for tyrants who would domineer others as a means of compensating for their own needs. It rejects those who confuse authority with authoritarianism, service with servility, discussion with oppression, a charity with a welfare mentality, power with destruction.” 

A vendor of religious items in Quiapo, Manila shows the image of the sleeping ‎St. Joseph. (Photo from Selies Galvez /

St. Joseph Devotion

In the Philippines, Joseph has been highly venerated by devotees, with many churches and institutions named after the foster father of Jesus. 

This was further ignited during Francis’ apostolic visit to the Philippines in 2015 where he shared a special image of Joseph which he always kept. (Read: The Miraculous Works of Sleeping Saint Joseph) After that encounter, the statue of the sleeping Joseph became popular in the Philippines and in other countries as well. 

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