Parishes have often invoked the patronage of the Patron of the Universal Church.
In this 150th anniversary year of Blessed Pope Pius IX’s declaration of St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church, Pope Francis has proclaimed a special “Year of St Joseph.”
In St. Joseph’s hometown
What would Nazareth be without a church dedicated to Joseph, the carpenter who oversaw Jesus’ growing up in that Galilean town? The foster father of Jesus is commemorated in this Franciscan Church of St. Joseph in the Old City of Nazareth, close to the better known Church of the Annunciation. It was built in 1914 in Romanesque Revival style over the remains of much older churches, including the Church of the Nutrition (the house where Jesus was nurtured).
St. Joseph’s Church in Amman, Jordan
The Latin Church of Jabal Amman is under the purview of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. In 2015 the church served to house refugees who fled the war in Iraq.
The first Catholic parish in the City of Brotherly Love was named for St. Joseph. Old St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia was founded in 1733. The current building is the third church on the site and was dedicated in 1839. An 1886 painting by Filippo Costaggini, “The Angelic Exaltation of St. Joseph into Heaven,” adorns the ceiling. In the wake of a yellow fever epidemic in 1793, which killed a tenth of the population, St. Joseph’s established an orphanage to care for children left without families. The church became racially integrated in the 1790s when slaves fleeing a revolution in Santo Domingo settled in Philadelphia and some joined the church.
World renowned musical instrument
The Saint Joseph Parish Church, otherwise known as the Las Piñas Church or Bamboo Organ Church, is in Las Piñas, just south of the city of Manila in the Philippines. The church is known around the world for its pipe organ made mostly with bamboo pipes. Both the church and the organ were built in the late 1790s by the Augustinian Recollects Fray Diego Cera de la Virgen del Carmen, a native of Spain. There’s an old documentary about the organ, available on YouTube.
The Shrine of St. Joseph in De Pere, Wisconsin
Just last month — on Christmas Day to be precise — “Old St. Joseph’s” on the campus of St. Norbert College in DePere, Wisconsin, celebrated its 150th anniversary. It was in 1870 that Joseph Melcher, the first bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay, dedicated the parish, which he had built to serve French Canadian settlers working in area lumber mills. The all-wood church built that year burned to the ground after a lightning strike in 1889, with only the statue of St. Joseph surviving. The church was rebuilt as a brick structure in 1890, and two years later, Pope Leo XIII decreed it as the site of the National Shrine of St. Joseph.
Founded in 1872 with help from the Duke of Norfolk, St. Joseph’s is the only Catholic parish church in Dorking, Surrey, England. The Dukes of Norfolk were a Catholic family and had their own chaplains, who also served the needs of local Catholics in the 18th and 19th centuries. Henry Fitzalan-Howard, 15th Duke of Norfolk, originally owned the site of the present church, and it was there that the duke and duchess financed the building of a church to serve the local community. The Gothic Revival style church was built in the waning years of the 19th century.
San Jose Cathedral, San Jose, California
Do you know the way to San Jose? And did you know that the California town, made famous by the 1968 Dionne Warwick song, has a cathedral dedicated to St. Joseph? Seat of the Diocese of San Jose, the minor basilica dates from 1877 and replaced the original San Jose de Guadalupe church, the first non-mission parish built in California for the benefit of Spanish settlers instead of the Mission Indians.
Patron of Vietnam
St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Hanoi, Vietnam, a late 19th-century Gothic Revival church, serves as the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hanoi. St. Joseph is the patron saint of Vietnam. Begun in 1886, the church was styled after Notre Dame de Paris. It was one of the first structures built by the French colonial government in Indochina.
St. Joseph’s Oratory, Montreal
St. André Bessette was a simple door-keeper in 19th century Montreal who developed a reputation for miraculous healings. He attributed the cures to St. Joseph. In 1904, the Congregation of Holy Cross, to which Brother André belonged, gave him funds to build a small chapel on Mount Royal. Eventually, a grand church was constructed on the hill, with a statue of St. Joseph in front, bearing the Latin words Ite a Joseph (Go to Joseph). Visitors to the basilica have the option of climbing a set of 99 wooden steps on their knees, and visiting a series of chapels dedicated to various attributes which Christian tradition has accorded to St. Joseph, such as Model for Workers and Sustainer of Families. Canes and crutches are suspended from pillars, objects
Guide for travelers
It’s said that some airline pilots use St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church in Chicago to align themselves with O’Hare International Airport’s longest runway. With its 13 golden domes, representing Christ and the Twelve Apostles, the church is easy to spot. Founded in 1956, the parish began construction of the current church in 1975. A year later, Patriarch Josyf (Joseph) Slipyj, who had spent 18 years in Soviet prisons, visited the parish and blessed of the foundation.
In addition to his role as patron of the Universal Church, St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, also is patron of many local parishes.
As a sign of his universal appeal, we find his patronage invoked in parishes and dioceses from the Holy Land to Hanoi.
Here, then, are just a few prominent churches dedicated to the Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He is honored and remembered as a healer, protector and advocate. Philadelphia Catholics of the newly independent United States, for example, took a special interest in orphans, no doubt inspired by St. Joseph, to whose parish they belonged. And a parish named for him in Jordan in recent years took in refugees fleeing from neighboring Iraq.
As Pope Francis wrote in the recent apostolic latter Patris corde, Joseph “encourages us to accept and welcome others as they are, without exception, and to show special concern for the weak.”
In Canada, a saintly religious brother did just that, going out to visit the sick during an epidemic or caring for the ill who came to him. Yet, he deflected praise for healings and cures that took place, urging his charges, “Ite ad Joseph.” Go to Joseph.
Those words adorn the shrine he built on a hill in Montreal, and they remain to inspire us to seek out this often neglected saint.