On May 1, 1955, Piux XII dedicated the liturgical feast celebrated by workers around the world to the Spouse of Mary and Jesus’ foster father, thus the beginning of the solemnity of St. Joseph the Worker. Pius XII announced the Feast to an audience of Italian workers. To them he described St. Joseph as “the humble craftsman of Nazareth” who “not only personifies the dignity of the manual laborer with God and the Holy Church,” but is “also always the provident custodian of you and your families.”
One year later, in 1956, a statue was created of St. Joseph and made in gilded bronze by the sculptor Enrico Nell Breuning. The statue was blessed on 1 May by the then-Archbishop of Milan, Giovanni Battista Montini (future Pope Paul VI)– and left Milan for Rome by helicopter on 2 May to be blessed also by Pope Pius XII at the audience granted that same day to ACLI (Christian Association of Italian Workers).
Today, some 64 years later, the ACLI brought the statute from their headquarters in Rome where it is displayed and placed it in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta where Pope Francis celebrated mass this morning, with the statue nearby.
As described by the Vatican News, “St. Joseph watches over a category of people who are currently hard-hit by a microscopic adversary, just as before he interceded for that same segment of society, which at the time was called upon to rebuild post-war Italy.”
And at the mass, Pope Francis said: “Today, on the feast of St. Joseph the Worker and the day dedicated to workers, let us pray for all workers, so that no one might be without work and all might be paid a just wage. May they benefit from the dignity of work and the beauty of rest.”
Let’s all pray, through the intercession of St. Joseph, that this pandemic ends and people all over the world can return to work.