In an historically difficult time of the Church, the Pope, BlessedPius IX, declared St. Joseph patron of the universal Church by Decree “Quemadmodum Deus”, on December 8, 1870. The Pope wrote that the Church has always most highly honored and praised St. Joseph, the one who most diligently reared Him whom the faithful were to receive as the bread that came down from heaven, whereby they might obtain eternal life. God made St. Joseph the protector of His greatest treasures.
With the beginning of the pontificate of PopePius IX, the birth of our Congregation was also beginning by Blessed Alphonse Marie Eppinger. In 1846, she saw in her visions newly elected Pius IX and everything that he would endure in the Church. Anthony Guth writes, “Elizabeth Eppinger greatly admired and respected the Holy Father, Pope Pius IX. For him and for the persecuted Church she prayed and sacrificed very much. She was characterized by unconditional obedience to the Holy See.” (GUTH, A.: K procesu blahorečenia, s. 79).
On August 15, 1989, the Pope, St. John Paul II, issued about St. Joseph the Apostolic Exhortation “Redemptoris custos” (Gardian of the Redeemer), in which he calls him the current patron of the Church. The Pope writes, “This patronage must be invoked as ever necessary for the Church, not only as a defense against all dangers, but also, and indeed primarily, as an impetus for her renewed commitment to evangelization in the world and to re-evangelization in those lands and nations where religion and the Christian life were formerly flourishing and … are now put to a hard test. Besides trusting in Joseph’s sure protection, the Church also trusts in his noble example, which transcends all individual states of life and serves as a model for the entire Christian community, whatever the condition and duties of each of its members may be. Already at the beginning of human redemption, after Mary, we find the model of obedience made incarnate in St. Joseph, the man known for having faithfully carried out God’s commands.” (RC 29 – 30).
On December 8, 2020, after 150 years since St. Joseph was declared the Patron of the Universal Church by the Pope, Blessed Pius IX, Holy Father Francis, introduced God’s people the Apostolic Letter “Patris corde” (With a Father’s Heart). He inspires us to honor St. Joseph with greater devotion, who for centuries has been the staunch protector of the great works of God.
Blessed Alphonse Marie, who was the child of the Church, prayed a lot for Pope Pius IX. She was obedient to him and allowed herself to be inspired by his appeal. Her relationship to St. Joseph was sincere, and her respect and trust for him was great throughout her life. She chose him as the main patron of the Congregation and she also awarded him several interesting titles.