Those little prayers Francis slips under his St Joseph statue

“The Holy Father really makes St. Joseph work. Francis' devotion to Jesus' adoptive father has spread to all those who work in and around the Pope's residence.

May 08, 2014

“The Holy Father really makes St. Joseph work. Francis' devotion to Jesus' adoptive father has spread to all those who work in and around the Pope's residence, including the Swiss Guards…” Francis has a great devotion for St. Joseph and even keeps a statuette of the saint in a marble-topped dark wooden chest of drawers just outside his room (Room 201) in St. Martha's House. The Pope slips prayer requests he has written under the pedestal and as the pieces of paper grow in number – “the Holy Father really makes the saint work” - the statuette slowly rises.

May 1, is the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker and so it is the right occasion to write about a devotion which has accompanied Pope Francis since his childhood days. The parish of Flores, the Buenos Aires neighbourhood where Francis was born and grew up, is dedicated to San Jose. It was in this church, dedicated to Jesus' adoptive father, that Bergoglio attended mass and had his earliest Christian experiences. It was in this parish and under St. Joseph's protection that on 21 September 1953, Bergoglio met Fr. Carlos B. Duarte Ibarra at the age of (almost) 17. After going to him for confession, he discovered his priestly vocation. Francis' pontificate is also under St. Joseph's protection, having been solemnly inaugurated on 19 March 2013.

“Let us never forget that authentic power is service, and that the Pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the Cross. He must be inspired by the lowly, concrete and faithful service which marked Saint Joseph and, like him, he must open his arms to protect all of God's people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison. Only those who serve with love are able to protect!” Pope Francis said in his homily on the Solemnity of St. Joseph.

On 5 July 2013 the Pope consecrated the whole of the Vatican City State to St. Joseph and St. Michael the Archangel, whom the Governorate had previously chosen as its own patron saint.

The wooden statuette of St. Joseph which is by Francis’ room in St. Martha’s House is about forty centimeters long and depicts the saint dressed in gold-trimmed dark green and red garments, typical of Hispanic American iconography. Joseph is lying down and asleep, a positions which is symbolic of the Gospel: it is always in his sleep that Jesus’ adoptive father receives messages from heaven about Mary and which name the Child should take and warnings about the danger Herod represents, causing the flight into Egypt. Bergoglio had a similar statue in the room he occupied for eighteen years at the Colegio Maximo of San Jose in San Miguel where he was rector and where he also lived when he was Provincial Superior of the Society of Jesus. The statuette of the sleeping St. Joseoh which he kept in the Buenos Aires curia is one of the few things the Pope had sent over from Argentina after his election: the head came off during the journey to Italy but Bergoglio saw to it that it was fixed.

“You know,” Francis told one of his collaborators in the first months after his election, “you have to be patient with these carpenters: they tell you they’ll have a piece of furniture finished in a couple of weeks and it ends up taking a month even. But they get the job done and they do it well! You just need to be patient…”

Tenderness, silence, concealment, avoiding the spotlight and his vocation to protect: these are some of the qualities Francis appreciates in the saint. This is why although the Pope's statuette depicts the patron saint sleeping, Francis makes him work a lot, often asking him for a helping hand.--Vatican Insider

Total Comments:0