On St. Joseph

«St. Joseph is the model of the educator and of the daddy, of the father»

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Here is a translation of Pope Francis’ address this morning at the general audience, which in light of today’s solemnity, he dedicated to St. Joseph.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Today, March 19, we celebrate the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of Mary and Patron of the universal Church. Therefore, we dedicate this catechesis to him, who merits all our gratitude and our devotion for his having been able to take care of the Holy Virgin and her Son Jesus. Joseph’s characteristic is to be a guardian: it is his great mission, to be a guardian.

Today I would like to take up the topic of guardianship according to a particular perspective: the educational perspective. We look at Joseph as the model of educators, who takes care of and supports Jesus in the course of his growth “in wisdom, age and grace,” as the Gospel says. He was not Jesus’ father: Jesus’ Father was God, but he behaved as a father to Jesus, he behaved as a father to Jesus to make him grow. And how did he make him grow? In wisdom, age and grace.

We begin with age, which is the most natural dimension, physical and psychological growth. Joseph, together with Mary, took care of Jesus especially from this point of view, namely, he “brought him up,” taking care that he did not lack the necessary for a healthy development. Let us not forget that the diligent looking-after of the life of the Child entailed also the flight into Egypt, the harsh experience of living as refugees – Joseph was a refugee, with Mary and Jesus – to escape from Herod’s threat. Then, once they had returned to their homeland and were established at Nazareth, there is the whole long period of Jesus’ life in his family. In those years, Joseph also taught Jesus his work, and Jesus learned to be a carpenter with his father Joseph. So Joseph brought up Jesus.

We pass to the second dimension of education, that of “wisdom.” Joseph was for Jesus an example and teacher of this wisdom, which is nourished by the Word of God. We can think of how Joseph educated little Jesus to listen to the Sacred Scriptures, above all accompanying him on Saturdays to the synagogue of Nazareth. And Joseph accompanied him so that Jesus could hear the Word of God in the synagogue.

And, finally, the dimension of “grace.” Referring to Jesus, Saint Luke says: “And the grace of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40). Here, certainly, the part reserved for Saint Joseph is more limited compared to the ambits of age and of wisdom. However, it would be a grave error to think that a father and a mother can do nothing to educate their children to grow in the grace of God. To grow in age, to grow in wisdom, to grow in grace: this is the work that Joseph did with Jesus, to make him grow in these three dimensions, to help him to grow.

Dear brothers and sisters, Saint Joseph’s mission is certainly unique and unrepeatable, because Jesus is absolutely unique. And yet, in his taking care of Jesus, educating him to grow in age, wisdom and grace he is a model for every educator, in particular for every father. Saint Joseph is the model of the educator and of the daddy, of the father. Therefore, I entrust to his protection all parents, priests – who are Fathers – and those who have an educational task in the Church and in society. In a special way, I would like to greet today, Day of the Father, all parents, all daddies: I greet you from my heart! Let’s see: are there some daddies in the Square? Daddies, raise your hand! But how many daddies! Best wishes, best wishes on your Day! I ask for you the grace to be always very close to your children, letting them grow but being close to them, close to them! They are in need of you, of your presence, of your closeness, of your love. Be for them like Saint Joseph: guardians of their growth in age, wisdom and grace. Guardians of their path; educators, and walk with them. And with this closeness you will be true educators. Thank you for all you do for your children, thank you. Many good wishes to you and happy Daddy’s Feast to all the daddies who are here, to all daddies. May Saint Joseph bless you and accompany you. And some of us have lost our daddy, he has gone, the Lord has called him. So many who are in the Square do not have their daddy. We can pray for all the daddies of the world, for the living daddies and also for the deceased and for our own, and we can do so together, each one remembering his daddy, if he is alive and if he is dead. And we pray to the great Daddy of us all, the Father. An “Our Father” for our daddies: Our Father …

And very best wishes to the daddies!

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To the Italian pilgrims:

I give a cordial welcome to the Italian-speaking faithful. I am happy to welcome the delegation of the “Benedictine torch of peace” with the Archbishop of Spoleto-Norcia, Monsignor Renato Boccardo; the Apostolic Administrator of Montecassino, Dom Augusto Ricci and the Abbot of Subiaco, Dom Mauro Meacci: I hope that this initiative can foster that peace of heart that only Jesus is able to give. I greet, moreover, the members of the Focolare Movement, gathered in an inter-religious congress; the Dean of the Consular Corps of Milan and of Lombardy; the faithful of Rome, Palermo, Perugia and Bergamo’ the FIAT group and the International Inner Wheel; the officers and military men; the Penelope Association and the numerous students. I wish for all that the visit to the Eternal City will be an occasion to rediscover the faith and to grow in charity.

A special thought goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Patron of the universal Church. Dear young people, look at him as the example of a humble and discreet life; dear sick, especially the guests of the “Aldo Moro Center of Hospitality,” accompanied by the Bishop of Gubbio, Monsignor Ceccobelli; the dialysis patients of Macerata and Tolentino and the boys of the Sogno di Giusy, learn to carry the cross with the attitude of silence and prayer of the legal father of Jesus; and you, dear newlyweds, build your family on the love that bound Mary to her husband Joseph. Thank you.

[Translation by ZENIT] [The synthesis given in English:]


Dear Brothers and Sisters: Today, we celebrate the feast of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Virgin Mary and Patron of the universal Church. Saint Joseph is venerated as the «guardian» of the Holy Family, and in this role he serves as a model for all fathers and educators. Joseph watched over Jesus’ human development – his growth, as Saint Luke tells us, «in wisdom, age and grace» (2:52). We think of how Joseph, as the carpenter of Nazareth, taught the young Jesus his trade and the value of work. Joseph also quietly imparted to Jesus that wisdom which consists above all in reverence for the Lord, prayer and fidelity to his word, and obedience to his will. Joseph’s paternal example helped Jesus to grow, on a human level, in his understanding and appreciation of his unique relationship to his heavenly Father. With Our Lady, Joseph guided the young Jesus as he responded to the working of the Holy Spirit in his heart and in his life. By his example and prayers, may Saint Joseph be a sure guide to all parents, priests and teachers charged with the education of our young.

Santo Padre:

Saluto cordialmente i pellegrini di lingua inglese presenti all’odierna Udienza, e in particolare quelli provenienti da Inghilterra, Irlanda, Danimarca, Indonesia, Canada – San Giuseppe è il Patrono del Canada! Preghiamo per il Canada – e Stati Uniti. Rivolgo un saluto particolare alla delegazione dell’Università Sophia di Tokyo in occasione del centesimo anniversario di fondazione. Su tutti voi invoco la gioia e la pace del Signore Gesù!


I am pleased to greet the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Irela
nd, Denmark, Indonesia, Canada – St. Joseph is the Patron of Canada! Let’s pray for Canada – and the United States. In a special way I greet the delegation from Sophia University in Japan, which this year marks the centenary of its founding. Upon all of you I invoke the joy and peace of Jesus our Lord!

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