Aug 15, 2013

Pope Benedict and Pope Francis join in fostering devotion to Saint Joseph

Online Edition:
August 2013
Vol. XIX, No. 5

Pope Benedict and Pope Francis join in fostering devotion to Saint Joseph
Saint Joseph’s Name added to Eucharistic Prayers

The addition of the name of Saint Joseph to Eucharistic Prayers II, III, and IV was announced by the Holy See on June 19. The decree, dated May 1, the Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker, was issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.  The decree provides an explanation for this addition, noting that Pope Benedict XVI had approved this action and Pope Francis confirmed it.

The name of Saint Joseph had been added to the Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I) by Pope John XXIII in November 1962, during the first month of the Second Vatican Council. In the Roman Canon, Saint Joseph’s name appears, with that of the Virgin Mary and the Apostles, in the invocation before the consecration. 

In the other three Eucharistic Prayers, however, the addition of the phrase “with blessed Joseph, her Spouse” (cum beato Joseph, eius Sponso) is in the concluding part of the prayer, just preceding “through Him, with Him, and in Him….” 

The texts for these brief additions were also provided by the Vatican in English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, French, German, and Polish, so that they could be used immediately. (The English version of the addition appears below.)

The devotion to Saint Joseph has been encouraged by several recent popes, notably by Pope John Paul II, whose 1989 apostolic exhortation Redemptoris Custos (Guardian of the Redeemer) was issued on  the centenary of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Quamquam Pluries — to be “in line with the veneration given to Saint Joseph over the centuries.” 

“I am convinced,” Pope John Paul wrote,

that by reflection upon the way that Mary’s spouse shared in the divine mystery, the Church — on the road towards the future with all of humanity — will be enabled to discover ever anew her own identity within this redemptive plan, which is founded on the mystery of the Incarnation. This is precisely the mystery in which Joseph of Nazareth “shared” like no other human being except Mary, the Mother of the Incarnate Word. He shared in it with her; he was involved in the same salvific event; he was the guardian of the same love, through the power of which the eternal Father “destined us to be His sons through Jesus Christ” (Eph 1:5).

Pope John Paul concluded his letter by urging renewed devotion to Saint Joseph in  our time:

It is my heartfelt wish that these reflections on the person of St. Joseph will renew in us the prayerful devotion which my Predecessor called for a century ago. Our prayers and the very person of Joseph have renewed significance for the Church in our day in light of the Third Christian Millennium.

The Second Vatican Council made all of us sensitive once again to the “great things which God has done,” and to that “economy of salvation” of which St. Joseph was a special minister. Commending ourselves, then, to the protection of him to whose custody God “entrusted His greatest and most precious treasures,” let us at the same time learn from him how to be servants of the “economy of salvation.” May St. Joseph become for all of us an exceptional teacher in the service of Christ’s saving mission, a mission which is the responsibility of each and every member of the Church: husbands and wives, parents, those who live by the work of their hands or by any other kind of work, those called to the contemplative life and those called to the apostolate.

This just man, who bore within himself the entire heritage of the Old Covenant, was also brought into the “beginning” of the New and Eternal Covenant in Jesus Christ. May he show us the paths of this saving Covenant as we stand at the threshold of the next millennium, in which there must be a continuation and further development of the “fullness of time” that belongs to the ineffable mystery of the Incarnation of the Word.

May St. Joseph obtain for the Church and for the world, as well as for each of us, the blessing of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


The text of the decree:


Prot. N. 215/11/L

Exercising his paternal care over Jesus, Saint Joseph of Nazareth, set over the Lord’s family, marvelously fulfilled the office he received by grace. Adhering firmly to the mystery of God’s design of salvation in its very beginnings, he stands as an exemplary model of the kindness and humility that the Christian faith raises to a great destiny, and demonstrates the ordinary and simple virtues necessary for men to be good and genuine followers of Christ. Through these virtues, this Just man, caring most lovingly for the Mother of God and happily dedicating himself to the upbringing of Jesus Christ, was placed as guardian over God the Father’s most precious treasures. Therefore he has been the subject of assiduous devotion on the part of the People of God throughout the centuries, as the support of that mystical body, which is the Church.        

The faithful in the Catholic Church have shown continuous devotion to Saint Joseph and have solemnly and constantly honored his memory as the most chaste spouse of the Mother of God and as the heavenly Patron of the universal Church. For this reason Blessed Pope John XXIII, in the days of the Most Holy Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, decreed that Saint Joseph’s name be added to the ancient Roman Canon. In response to petitions received from places throughout the world, the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI deemed them worthy of implementation and graciously approved them. The Supreme Pontiff Francis likewise has recently confirmed them. In this the pontiffs had before their eyes the full communion of the saints who, once pilgrims in this world, now lead us to Christ and unite us with Him.

Accordingly, mature consideration having been given to all the matters mentioned here above, this Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, by virtue of the faculties granted by the Supreme Pontiff Francis, is pleased to decree that the name of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is henceforth to be added to Eucharistic Prayers II, III, and IV, as they appear in the third typical edition of the Roman Missal, after the name of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as follows: in Eucharistic Prayer II: “ut cum beáta Dei Genetríce Vírgine María, beáto Ioseph, eius Sponso, beátis Apóstolis”; in Eucharistic Prayer III: “cum beatíssima Vírgine, Dei Genetríce, María, cum beáto Ioseph, eius Sponso, cum beátis Apóstolis”; and in Eucharistic Prayer IV: “cum beáta Vírgine, Dei Genetríce, María, cum beáto Ioseph, eius Sponso, cum Apóstolis.”

As regards the Latin text, these formulas are hereby declared typical. The Congregation itself will soon provide vernac- ular translations in the more widespread western languages; as for other languages, translations are to be prepared by the Bishops’ Conferences, according to the norm of law, to be confirmed by the Holy See through this Dicastery.

All things to the contrary notwithstanding.

From the offices of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 1 May 2013, on the Memorial of Saint Joseph the Worker.


Antonio Cardinal Cañizares Llovera, Prefect

Arthur Roche, Archbishop Secretary




The Editors