From "John XXIII: Pope Of Saint Joseph" by Blaine Burkey, O.F.M.Cap.

[Ever since Pope Pius IX declared Saint Joseph patron and protector of the Universal Church,] the Church has been on a search for new ways of honoring her perennial protector. Pius IX raised Joseph's feast to first class. Leo XIII approved the Saint Joseph Scapular and penned an encyclical on devotion to Saint Joseph. The Litany of Saint Joseph was endorsed for public use by Pope Saint Pius X. Benedict XV sanctioned a proper preface in Joseph's honor and added his invocation to the Divine Praises. Pius XI designated him special protector against Communism. Pius XII instituted a first class feast of Saint Joseph the Worker. Pope after Pope vied with his predecessors in amplifying this cult. So persistently and dynamically did Pope John XXIII sing the praises of Saint Joseph, that he has more than merited a niche alongside Pius IX as a "Pope of Saint Joseph."

At his first Papal celebration in 1959, Pope John XXIII addressed Rome's street-cleaners and told them the only reason he had not taken the name Joseph as Pope was that no Pope had ever had the name before. . . . The first day of May each year always found Pope John, in the tradition of Pius XII, addressing the Christian Associations of Italian Workers, always recommending devotion to and imitation of their patron. In 1960, His Holiness ended his May 1st allocution with a priceless prayer to the patron of laborers, which made special mention of the intimacy in which Joseph lived with Jesus and Mary. "O Saint Joseph, guardian of Jesus, chaste spouse of Mary, who passed your life in the perfect fulfillment of duty, sustaining the Holy Family of Nazareth with the labor of your hands, protect kindly those who trustingly turn to you. You know their aspirations, their miseries, their hopes, and they have recourse to you because they know that they will find in you one who will understand and protect them. You too have known trial, labor and weariness. But, even in the midst of worries of the material life, your soul was filled with profound peace and it exulted in unerring joy through intimacy with the Son of God entrusted to you, and with Mary, his most sweet mother. Make those whom you protect understand that they are not alone in their labor, but show them how to discover Jesus near them, to receive Him with grace, to guard Him faithfully, as you have done. And assure that in every family, in every factory, in every workshop, wherever a Christian works, all may be satisfied in charity, in patience, in justice, in seeking to do well, so that abundant gifts may descend from heaven."

A homily on the Ascension that same year (May 26, 1960) afforded Pope John the opportunity to assert that it may be piously believed that Saint John the Baptist and Saint Joseph were bodily assumed into heaven at the time of our Lord's ascension. Besides naming Saint Joseph the patron of the Second Vatican Council, the Pope announced his intention of seeing to it that the altar of Saint Joseph in Saint Peter's Basilica "takes on a new and fuller and more solemn splendor . . . and becomes a point of attraction and of religious devotion for individual souls and for countless crowds."

In 1962 Pope John reminisced on his decision to be consecrated Bishop on the Feast of Saint Joseph. Cardinal Peter Gasparri "asked Us in that very direct and pointed but friendly way that he had, "And why in the world on the feast of Saint Joseph?" Our reply was a simple one: "Because this is the Saint We think would be the ideal teacher and patron for diplomats of the Holy See." "Oh! Is that so?" said the Cardinal. "I would never have guessed that." "Well, you see, your Eminence, it's this way. Knowing how to obey; knowing how to keep quiet; when need be, speaking with care and reserve. That's the diplomat of the Holy See; and that's Saint Joseph. Just picture him setting out for Bethlehem at once out of obedience; carefully looking for some place to stay; and then watching over the cave; eight days after the birth of Jesus, presiding over the Jewish rite that made a new-born child one of the chosen people. Just picture him receiving with honor the Magi, those splendid ambassadors from the East. Just see him on the roads of Egypt and then back at Nazareth, always silent and obedient: showing Jesus to people and hiding Him: defending Him and taking care of Him. And as for himself, just following along quietly, remaining in the shadow of the mysteries of Our Lord, and seeing a little heavenly light thrown upon them every so often by an angel."

Then, as a peak in Josephite devotion, Pope John inserted Saint Joseph's name in the very center of the Church's prayer life, the Canon of the Mass. In the Church's most solemn of prayers he is now honored with his wife Mary. Those whom God has joined together, the Church-at-prayer now daily invokes together, thanks to Pope John XXIII, Pope of Saint Joseph.

Adapted from Burkey, "John XXIII: Pope of Saint Joseph,"

The American Ecclesiastical Review, July (1963): 2-13.