On March 19, the Holy Church celebrates the feast of Saint Joseph, spouse of the Virgin Mary and patron of the universal Church. Two texts, one from Pope Pius IX, who declares this patronage, and the other from Pope Leo XIII who explains the reasons for it. In this year 2023, Saint Joseph is celebrated today, March 20.
Pius IX, Decree Quemadmodum Deus, December 8, 1870
As almighty God appointed Joseph, son of the patriarch Jacob, over all the land of Egypt to save grain for the people, so when the fullness of time was come and He was about to send to earth His only-begotten Son, the Savior of the world, He chose another Joseph, of whom the first had been the type, and He made him the lord and chief of His household and possessions, the guardian of His choicest treasures. Indeed, he had as his spouse the Immaculate Virgin Mary, of whom was born by the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ our Lord, who deigned to be reputed in the sight of men as the son of Joseph, and was subject to him.
Him whom countless kings and prophets had desired to see, Joseph not only saw but conversed with, and embraced in paternal affection, and kissed. He most diligently reared Him whom the faithful were to receive as the bread that came down from heaven whereby they might obtain eternal life.
Because of this sublime dignity which God conferred on his most faithful servant, the Church has always most highly honored and praised blessed Joseph next to his spouse, the Virgin Mother of God, and has besought his intercession in times of trouble. And now therefore, when in these most troublesome times the Church is beset by enemies on every side and is weighed down by calamities so heavy that ungodly men assert that the gates of hell have at length prevailed against her, the venerable prelates of the whole Catholic world have presented to the Sovereign Pontiff their own petitions and those of the faithful committed to their charge, praying that he would deign to constitute St. Joseph Patron of the universal Church.
And this time their prayer and desire was renewed by them even more earnestly at the Sacred Ecumenical Council of the Vatican. Accordingly, it has now pleased our Most Holy Sovereign, Pope Pius IX, in order to entrust himself and all the faithful to the Patriarch St. Joseph’s most powerful patronage, has chosen to comply with the prelates’ desire.
For this reason, he solemnly declares Saint Joseph patron of the Catholic Church on this day dedicated to the Immaculate Virgin, Mother of God, spouse of the most chaste Joseph.
Leo XIII, Encyclical Quamquam Pluries, August 15, 1889
The special motives for which St. Joseph has been proclaimed Patron of the Church, and from which the Church looks for singular benefit from his patronage and protection, are that Joseph was the spouse of Mary and that he was reputed the Father of Jesus Christ.
But as Joseph has been united to the Blessed Virgin by the ties of marriage, it may not be doubted that he approached nearer than any to the eminent dignity by which the Mother of God surpasses so nobly all created natures.
And Joseph shines among all mankind by the most august dignity, since by divine will, he was the guardian of the Son of God and reputed as His father among men. Joseph became the guardian, the administrator, and the legal defender of the divine house whose chief he was.
Now, the divine house which Joseph ruled with the authority of a father contained within its limits the scarce-born Church.
And for such reasons the blessed Patriarch looks upon the multitude of Christians who make up the Church as confided specially to his trust – this limitless family spread over the earth, over which, because he is the spouse of Mary and the Father of Jesus Christ, he holds, as it were, a paternal authority.