A Century Away. A Year Dedicated to Saint Joseph in 1921

On December 8, 2020, Pope Francis invited us to a year dedicated to Saint Joseph.

We were astonished to discover, while browsing through the Annales de l’Oratoire Saint-Joseph that the year 1921 had also been consecrated to Saint Joseph by Pope Benedict XV. One hundred years to the day from the call of Pope Francis.

It is in the January 1921 issue of the Annales that we read a circular from the Archbishop of Montreal, Most Rev. Paul Bruchési.

He recalls that in July 1920, Pope Benedict XV announced that as of December 8 of the same year, the entire Church was invited to celebrate « by the whole Catholic world a solemn ceremony in honor of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and patron of the Catholic Church, at a time and in a manner to be determined by each bishop” (1).

Mgr Paul Bruchesi

Portrait of Archbishop Paul Bruchési (1855-1939).
CADRG, 123-25_x

Pape Benoît XV

Portrait of Pope Benedict XV (1854-1922).
CADRG, 120-1

The Holy Father’s request was first made in the context of the 50th anniversary of the proclamation of Saint Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church (by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1870).

Pope Benedict XV’s motu proprio Bonum Sane expresses the desire to entrust to Saint Joseph a world wounded by years of brutal war, encouraging a return to the values of work, family and prayer to Saint Joseph (2).

Recalling the devotion to Saint Joseph since the time of New France, Archbishop Bruchési took the opportunity to underline the extent to which the presence of the Oratory is “a great honor for our diocese […] to be the center of an already famous pilgrimage in honor of Saint Joseph.” This shows how much the work of the humble Brother André played a recognized role in the Montreal Church.

Pie IX

Portrait of Pope Pius IX (1792-1878).
CADRG, 120b-3

Archbishop Bruchési concludes his circular with a few requests. First, that the Fathers of the Congregation of the Holy Cross hold a triduum from December 5 to 7. Second, that each parish hold a prayer triduum in March. Bishop Bruchési also asked that the month of March be given “the greatest solemnity”: that Veni Creator be sung at each Mass and that each day an exercise of piety (an instruction, a pious reading, a liturgical chant) be performed in honor of Saint Joseph.

Throughout 1921, the Annales were the relay for Bishop Bruchési’s requests. Faithful to their mission, they published songs, instructions from Blessed Father Basile Moreau, founder of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, poems, historical studies on devotion in Canada, etc. The Annals of the Holy Cross were also published in 1921.

Finally, it should be noted that although a triduum in honor of Saint Joseph has been celebrated at the Oratory during the month of March since 1909, it is in this year dedicated to Saint Joseph in 1921 that a novena of thanksgiving is celebrated for the first time… A great tradition that is still being lived today, a century later. (3)

Foule dans la crypte

Celebration of Mass in honour of Saint Joseph in the Crypt Church of Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal.
Photograph attributed to Brother Denis, CSC.
CADRG, 45-1b

  1. Annales de Saint-Joseph, January 1921, vol.10, no.1, page 4.
  2. Benedict XV’s motu proprio (in Latin or Italian) can be found at http://www.vatican.va/content/benedict-xv/it/motu_proprio/documents/hf_ben-xv_motu-proprio_19200725_bonum-sane.html
  3. Annales de Saint-Joseph, May 1921, vol. 10, no. 5, page 143.