Vatican (CNA) – Pope Francis announced a Year of St. Joseph on Dec. 8 in honor of the 150th anniversary of the saint’s proclamation as patron of the Universal Church by Blessed Pius IX on Dec. 8, 1870.
The year begins Dec. 8, 2020, and concludes on Dec. 8, 2021, according to a decree authorized by the pope.
The decree said that Francis had established a Year of St. Joseph so that “every member of the faithful, following his example, may strengthen their life of faith daily in the complete fulfillment of God’s will.”
It added that the pope had granted special indulgences to mark the year.
In addition to the decree, Francis issued an apostolic letter dedicated to the foster father of Jesus.
The pope explained in the letter, entitled Patris corde (“With a father’s heart”) and dated Dec. 8, that he wanted to share some “personal reflections” on the spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
“My desire to do so increased during these months of pandemic,” he said, noting that many people had made hidden sacrifices during the crisis in order to protect others.
“Each of us can discover in Joseph -- the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence -- an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble,” he wrote.
“St. Joseph reminds us that those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an incomparable role in the history of salvation.”
In its Dec. 8 decree, the Apostolic Penitentiary said that, “to reaffirm the universality of St. Joseph's patronage in the Church,” it would grant a plenary indulgence to Catholics who recite any approved prayer or act of piety in honor of St. Joseph, especially on March 19, the saint’s solemnity, and May 1, the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker.
Other notable days for the plenary indulgence are the Feast of the Holy Family on Dec. 29, as well as the 19th of each month and every Wednesday, a day dedicated to the saint in the Latin tradition.
Also, those who follow the example of Joseph in practicing the virtue of justice by performing a spiritual or corporal work of mercy will also be able to obtain the gift of a plenary indulgence.
The decree said, during this time of the pandemic, a plenary indulgence is also granted to the elderly, the sick, the dying and all those unable to leave the house who, with a spirit detached from sin and the intention of fulfilling, as soon as possible, the usual conditions, “recite an act of piety in honor of St. Joseph, comfort of the sick and patron of a happy death, offering with trust in God the pains and discomforts of their life.”
The conditions for receiving a plenary indulgence are a spirit detached from sin, sacramental confession, the reception of Holy Communion and prayer for the pope's intentions.
The full text of the apostolic letter can be found at http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_letters/documents/papa-francesco-lettera-ap_20201208_patris-corde.html
The full text of the decree can be found at http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/tribunals/apost_penit/documents/rc_trib_appen_pro_20201208_decreto-indulgenze-sangiuseppe_sp.html