Pope Francis greets Pope emeritus Benedict XVI at the Vatican’s Mater Ecclesiae Monastery on Nov. 28, 2020. Credit: Vatican Media.
Pope emeritus Benedict XVI has paid tribute to the Year of St. Joseph declared by Pope Francis and urged Catholics to read Francis’ apostolic letter Patris corde, describing it as a simple text “coming from the heart and going to the heart, yet containing such profound depth.”
In an interview with the German Catholic weekly newspaper Die Tagespost, the 93-year-old, whose baptismal patron saint is Joseph, also talked about family memories, and impressions from his pilgrimages to the Holy Land.
“I am of course particularly delighted that Pope Francis has drawn the attention of the faithful to St. Joseph,” Benedict XVI said in the interview which will be published in full tomorrow.
“I have therefore read with particular gratitude and heartfelt approval the apostolic letter Patris corde, which the Holy Father issued on the occasion of the elevation of St. Joseph to patron saint of the entire Church 150 years ago.”
“I think that this text should be read and considered again and again by the faithful and thus contribute to a purification and deepening of our veneration of the saints in general and of St. Joseph in particular.”
In the wide-ranging interview with journalist Regina Einig, the pope emeritus reflected on the silence of Joseph. His seeming absence in Scripture eloquently expresses the saint’s particular message, Benedict said.
“His silence is in fact his message. It expresses the ‘Yes’ that he took upon himself by uniting with Mary and thus with Jesus,” he commented.
CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, reported that in the interview Benedict XVI shared his family’s tradition of celebrating St. Joseph’s Day — 19 March in his native Bavaria.
His mother would usually save up for the purchase of a good book for the feast day, Benedict recalled. In addition, to celebrate Josefi, as the day is called in Bavaria, the Ratzinger family would make coffee from coffee beans, which his father loved but which the family could not afford every day. This coffee was drunk for breakfast and a special tablecloth was laid out for the occasion to mark the saint’s day.
Benedict recounted that “to top it all off, there was always a primrose as a sign of spring, which St. Joseph brings with him. Finally, our mother baked a cake with icing — that fully expressed the extraordinary nature of the feast day. Thus, from the morning hours on, the specialness of St. Joseph’s Day was given, in a compelling way.”
In addition, Benedict described his personal impressions of his visit to Nazareth, the hometown of his namesake and patron saint which he visited as pope in 2009. He also commented on the tradition of invoking St. Joseph as intercessor for a good hour of death.
Noting that Joseph is not mentioned in Scripture after the first public appearance of Jesus as recounted in Luke 4:22, the retired pope commented that “the idea that he [Joseph] ended his earthly life in Mary’s care is well-founded. Therefore, to ask him to kindly accompany us in our last hour is a well-founded form of piety.”