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Pope Francis popularizes devotion to Sleeping St. Joseph

June 12, 2015
Valerie Schmalz

Statues of a Sleeping St. Joseph are flying off the shelves in the Philippines and travelers are bringing them back to the United States, popularizing a novena to the foster father of Jesus and patron saint of the Catholic Church after Pope Francis spoke of his personal devotion during his visit to the Philippines in January.

Pope Francis, who has had a statue of a sleeping St. Joseph on his desk for decades, brought the statue he had in Argentina with him to the Vatican when he was elected pope. He told the story of his devotion during his Jan. 16 meeting with families in Manila, saying he places slips of paper under his statue of a sleeping St. Joseph when he has a special problem.

The pope’s devotion to St. Joseph meant he chose to celebrate the inaugural Mass of his pontificate on March 19, the feast of St. Joseph.

“Even when he is asleep, he is taking care of the church! Yes! We know that he can do that. So when I have a problem, a difficulty, I write a little note and I put it underneath St. Joseph, so that he can dream about it! In other words I tell him: Pray for this problem!” Pope Francis said. “Do not forget St. Joseph who sleeps! Jesus slept with the protection of Joseph.”

We also must rest in prayer and dream, the pope told the families in the Philippines.

“The Scriptures seldom speak of St. Joseph, but when they do, we often find him resting, as an angel reveals God’s will to him in his dreams,” Pope Francis said. “Joseph’s rest revealed God’s will to him. In this moment of rest in the Lord, as we pause from our many daily obligations and activities, God is also speaking to us.”

San Franciscan Florian Romero, who visits her family in the Philippines frequently, said the devotion to St. Joseph emphasizes Pope Francis’ focus on the importance of the family, quoting his Jan. 16 speech: “But like St. Joseph, once we have heard God’s voice, we must rise from our slumber; we must get up and act.”

“Pope Francis said on that occasion that faith does not distance us from the world. On the contrary, it brings us closer. For that reason, St. Joseph is a model father for the Christian family. He overcame the difficulties of life because he rested with God,” Romero said.


Prayer to the Sleeping St. Joseph

Oh St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God. I place in you all my interest and desires. Oh St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

So that having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving Fathers. Oh St. Joseph, I never weary of contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart.

Press him in my name and kiss his fine head for me and ask him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath.

St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls, pray for me and my loved ones. Amen

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