[originally published March 19, 2015]
On March 19, 2013, the pontificate of Francis (the first non-European to sit in the Chair of Peter in 13 centuries) was inaugurated. In his homily he accepted as his mission that of St. Joseph--to be custos: the protector.
It is inspiring to read of his trust in Joseph, who taught our Lord what manliness and fatherhood looked like:
"... I would like to tell you something very personal. I like St Joseph very much. He is a strong man of silence. On my desk I have a statue of St Joseph sleeping. While sleeping he looks after the Church. Yes, he can do it! We know that. When I have a problem or a difficulty, I write on a piece of paper and I put it under his statue so he can dream about it. This means: please pray to St Joseph for this problem."
Pope Francis went on to say: “In the Gospels, St. Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness... [Exercising the role of protector as St. Joseph did] means doing so discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand... [The bishop of Rome] must be inspired by the lowly, concrete and faithful service which marked St. Joseph and, like him, he must open his arms to protect all of God’s people."
UPDATE: Two other holy men who had a deep devotion to Joseph the Worker: Pope John XXIII (see his prayer); and Josemaría Escrivá (d. 1975), the Spaniard who founded Opus Dei.
Father Escrivá wrote: "I don't agree with the traditional picture of St Joseph as an old man... I see him as a strong young man, perhaps a few years older than our Lady, but in the prime of his life and work."