By John Waters
19th March is the Solemnity of the Feast of Saint Joseph, the Foster-Father of Jesus. The Feast was established for the entire Church by Pope Pius V in 1570, although it had already been celebrated in individual countries since the 10th century.
Fr Anthony Doe of the Archdiocese of Westminster spoke to Vatican News about the importance of the Solemnity and the need to pray to St Joseph. Fr Doe is currently serving as the Spiritual Director to the Venerable English College in Rome.
The paternity of St Joseph
Speaking of Joseph’s role in the early life of Jesus, Fr Anthony said: “The Jewish father played an enormously important part in the life of the son because he embodied the spirit of the covenant." St Joseph's fatherhood, he said, "with all its depth is of immense value to world because within our society there is a crisis in the whole nature of paternity, which embodies the spirit of commitment, willingness to sacrifice for the good of his children, to endow them with values and prepare them for love in their own lives."
“This is communicated very powerfully when the father himself is in communion with God. The father plays a very powerful role in the life of his children. “
St Joseph's feast
The Solemnity of St Joseph is a Holy Day of Obligation in the Latin Church, although many national Bishops' Conferences have decided, in accordance with canon law, that it should not be observed as such in their territories. The feast is a public holiday within the Vatican; while in Italy, St Joseph’s day is also Father’s Day. A number of cakes, pastries and sweets are often baked to as part of the celebration. They are usually baked with breadcrumbs, to symbolise sawdust, remembering that Joseph worked as a carpenter.