Catholic Culture Overview
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Theme of Pope’s general audience: ‘St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church’

February 16, 2022

At his February 16 general audience—the twelfth and final audience in a series of Wednesday audiences on St. Joseph—Pope Francis reflected on St. Joseph as the patron of the universal Church.

Previous audiences were devoted to St. Joseph and the environment in which he lived (November 17), St. Joseph and salvation history (November 24), St. Joseph, just man and husband of Mary (December 1), and St. Joseph, man of silence (December 15), St. Joseph, persecuted and courageous migrant (December 29), St. Joseph, Jesus’ foster father (January 5), St. Joseph the Carpenter (January 12), St. Joseph, father in tenderness (January 19), St. Joseph, a man who ‘dreams’ (January 26), St. Joseph and the communion of saints (February 2), and St. Joseph, patron of the good death (February 9).

“Our catechesis on Saint Joseph now concludes with a reflection on his role as Patron of the Universal Church,’” Pope Francis said to pilgrims assembled in Paul VI Audience Hall, according to the official Vatican summary of his remarks. “This title, bestowed on Saint Joseph 150 years ago by Blessed Pius IX, is based on the witness of Scripture.”

The summary continued:

In the Gospels, Joseph is consistently presented as the guardian of the Virgin Mary and the Child Jesus. Just as Joseph protected the Holy Family, so too he continues to love and protect the Body of Christ, which is the Church, as well as the poor, the sick and the dying whom the Lord calls the least of his brothers and sisters.

Saint Joseph teaches us that we too must love and protect the Church and Christ’s poor. At a time when it is easy to criticize the Church, this means frankly acknowledging that we are a people of sinners graciously redeemed by God’s mercy, while at the same time bearing witness to the Risen Christ’s presence in our midst, the transformative power of his grace in the sacraments, and the holiness which is the unfailing gift of his Spirit.

Together with so many saints throughout history, let us commend ourselves and the needs of the Church to the protection of Saint Joseph, asking him, in the words of today’s prayer, to “guide us in the path of life… and defend us from every evil. Amen.”


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