The special year, announced by the Holy Father on Tuesday, goes from December 8, 2020, until December 8, 2021. The announcement came on the same day as an Apostolic Letter, Patris corde, was released by Pope Francis to mark the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church.
Patris corde means “With a Father’s Heart”. The letter describes St. Joseph as a beloved father, a tender and loving father, an obedient father, an accepting father, a creatively courageous father, a working father, and a father in the shadows. In the letter, Pope Francis explains that the aim of his apostolic letter is “to increase our love for this great saint, to encourage us to implore his intercession and to imitate his virtues and his zeal.”
The Holy Father connects St. Joseph to the current times, speaking about how ordinary people, even those who are making the biggest difference, are often overlooked. “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. Saint Joseph reminds us that those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an incomparable role in the history of salvation,” he writes.
Also on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the Apostolic Penitentiary announced a special Plenary Indulgence for the Year of St. Joseph. The plenary indulgence will be granted under the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic Communion, detachment from sin, and prayer for the Pope’s intentions) to those who participate in the Year of St Joseph in any of the following ways:
Corporal Works of Mercy: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned and bury the dead.
Spiritual Works of Mercy: instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, admonish the sinners, forgive offenses, comfort the afflicted, bear wrongs patiently, pray for the living and the dead.
Amid the ongoing Covid-19 health crisis, the gift of the plenary indulgence is also extended to the sick, the elderly, the dying, and all those who for legitimate reasons are unable to leave their homes.
They too can obtain the plenary indulgences if they are detached from any sin and have the intention of fulfilling, as soon as possible, the three usual conditions and recite an act of piety in honor of St. Joseph, offering to God the pains and hardships of their lives.
The Litany of St. Joseph can be found HERE.