How St Joseph Was Added to the Canon

A week or so ago, Pope Francis announced that the name of St Joseph would be added to the Intercessions in the Eucharistic Prayers. After the consecration, we will now hear “…with the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, with Blessed Joseph, her Spouse, with the blessed Apostles…”

I admit I don’t know much about St Joseph, but I’d like to know more about him. This just man was, after all, a father to the Son of God, a husband to our Blessed Mother, and is the faithful guardian of the Church.

I found this lovely account of how St Joseph first came to be added to the Eucharistic Prayers in 1962 during the Second Vatican Council.

The aged Bishop Petar Cule (Mostar, Yugoslavia) put in a long plea for the inclusion of the name of St. Joseph in the canon of the mass, but as he talked on, nervously repeating himself, murmurs began to be heard and Cardinal Ruffini was prompted to interject: “Complete your holy and eloquent speech. We all love St. Joseph and we hope there are many saints in Yugoslavia.” […]

It was this cutting off of Bishop Cule that prompted Pope John to order the insertion of the name of St. Joseph in the canon of the mass on his own authority (decree announced November 13th, effective Dec. 8, 1962), without waiting for any conciliar recommendation in the matter. This caused great astonishment, but few were aware that the pope, following the debates on closed circuit television in his apartments, knew Bishop Cule personally and also knew that his nervous manner of speaking had a tragic source: he had suffered through one of those long trials made famous by the Communists and was sentenced to four years in a concentration camp in Yugoslavia. He and other prisoners were then put on a train which was deliberately wrecked in an attempt to kill all aboard. The bishop survived, but both his hips were broken. In poor health, he had nevertheless made great effort to attend the Council and speak up for St. Joseph. Thus his wish was fulfilled.

– From: Xavier Rynne, Vatican Council II (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1999), pp. 75-76

I love the idea of this humble and different bishop speaking up for St Joseph, another humble man. In the Holy Family, St Joseph often seems that strong and silent presence, guarding and protecting the Infant Jesus and his wife, the Blessed Virgin. But he is also a supremely humble man, “an exemplary model of the kindness and humility that the Christian faith raises to a great destiny.”

St Joseph, pray for us!

Gerard van Honthorst, Childhood of Christ, c. 1620 (Hermitage Museum, Saints Petersburg)

Gerard van Honthorst, Childhood of Christ, c. 1620 (Hermitage Museum, Saints Petersburg)


12 responses to “How St Joseph Was Added to the Canon

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