When Pope Francis decided to dedicate this liturgical year to St. Joseph and write his apostolic letter, Patris Corde, announcing it, he was making his major contribution to the long and storied history of the Church’s devotion to Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and foster father of Jesus. The prominent place that Saint Joseph holds in our Church Tradition can be seen in his patronage, his liturgical feasts, the religious communities that have taken his name, his apparitions with the Blessed Mother, the major shrines and basilicas dedicated to him, the Church documents written about him, the prayers said to him, his place in the liturgy, as well as the studies devoted to him. A summary of this rich Tradition follows, below, along with a detailing of our diocese’s relationship with our just and loving spiritual father, Saint Joseph.
- Calloway, Donald L. Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of our Spiritual Father. Marian Press, 2020.
- Joseph of Nazareth: The Story of the Man Closest to Christ DVD 2009
- My Catholic Family – St. Joseph (EWTN VIDEO SERIES)
The history of Saint Joseph’s patronage began in 1868, when Blessed Jean-Joseph Lataste, OP, wrote a letter to Blessed Pope Pius IX asking him to declare St. Joseph the “Patron of the Universal Church.” Two years later, in 1870, the said pope did just that. Over the years, Saint Joseph has come additionally to be known as the patron saint of fathers, workers, and social justice.
The Solemnity of Saint Joseph (March 19th) traces its history back to 1570, when Pope Pius V dedicated the day to him and inserted the feast into the liturgical calendar by his Apostolic Constitution Quo Primum. In 1955, Venerable Pope Pius XII established the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, to be celebrated on May 1st.
In 1871, Cardinal Herbert A. Vaughan founded the Josephites. Two years later, in 1873, St. Leonardo Murialdo founded the Congregation of St. Joseph. Then, in 1878, St. Joseph Marello founded the Oblates of St. Joseph. In 1914, Saint Luigi Guanella founded the Pious Union of St. Joseph for the Salvation of the Dying.
In the 1879 apparitions of Knock, Ireland, Saint Joseph appeared with the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. John the Apostle, and Jesus, who appeared as the Lamb of God. In the apparitions at Fatima, Portugal, during the last apparition on October 13th, St. Joseph appeared holding the Child Jesus and blessing the world.
In 1901, the shrine to St. Joseph, in Barcelona, Spain, begun by Blessed Petra of St. Joseph, in 1895, was consecrated. In 1967, the minor basilica, St. Joseph’s Oratory, begun by Saint Andre Bessette in 1904, in Montreal, Canada, was completed and eventually became the preeminent international center of devotion to St. Joseph that it is today. In 1912, the basilica dedicated to St. Joseph, in Rome, begun by Saint Luigi Guanella, in 1908, was completed and consecrated. In 2013, Pope Francis consecrated Vatican City State to St. Joseph.
In 1889, Pope Leo XIII wrote Quamquam Pluries, an encyclical letter on St. Joseph. In 1989, Saint Pope John Paul II wrote Redemptoris Custos, an apostolic exhortation on St. Joseph.
In 1909, Saint Pope Pius X officially approved the Litany of St. Joseph. In 1921, Pope Benedict XV inserted the phrase “Blessed be St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse,” into the Divine Praises. In 1962, Saint Pope John XXIII inserted St. Joseph’s name into the Canon of the Mass, in Eucharistic Prayer I. Then, in 2013, Pope Francis inserted the name of St. Joseph into all Eucharistic Prayers.
In 1947, the Spanish Discalced Carmelites founded Estudios Josefinos, the first theological journal devoted to St. Joseph.
In 1825, St. John Parish (later known as St. Joseph) was established in Martinsburg. In 1828, St. James Parish in Wheeling became the first parish with a resident priest. The new St. James Church was dedicated in 1849, located from Eleventh and Chapline to Thirteenth and Eoff Streets in Wheeling. In 1850, Pope Pius IX erected the Diocese of Wheeling, and St. James Parish in Wheeling became St. James Cathedral. In 1853, three Sisters of St. Joseph and three novices arrived in Wheeling from St. Louis to take charge of Wheeling Hospital. The Congregation of Sisters of St. Joseph of Wheeling was officially established on May 4th of 1860. In 1862, St. Joseph Parish in Mason was established. St. Joseph Mission in Pennsboro was established in 1870. In 1872, both St. Joseph parish in Huntington was established and the name of the Cathedral was changed to St. Joseph, at which time Saint Joseph was named patron of the diocese. In 1873, St. Joseph Parish in Proctor was established. In 1900, St. Joseph Hospital was opened in Parkersburg, and St. Joseph Parish (now Holy Rosary) in Buckhannon was established. In 1905, St. Joseph Orphanage was begun in Huntington by the Sisters of Christian Education. In 1906, St. Joseph Parish in Howesville was established. It had been a log church since 1849. St. Joseph Parish (Italian) in Fairmont was established, in 1909. In 1921, St. Joseph Hospital in Buckhannon opened. In 1926, the new St. Joseph Cathedral was dedicated on April 21st. In 1956, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Wheeling dedicated their new motherhouse, Mount St. Joseph, on the grounds of the former Holloway Estate near Oglebay Park. In 1957, St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Weirton was established. In 1958, St. Joseph the Worker Mission in Whitesville was established and became a parish in 1976. In 1962, plans were announced for construction of St. Joseph Preparatory Seminary in Vienna, and it was dedicated in 1966. In 1965, the first Sisters of St. Joseph were assigned to the diocesan mission in Guatemala. In 1974, St. Joseph Parish in Martinsburg joins the diocese as its boundaries were changed, and St. Joseph Parish in Pennsboro was established. In 1985, Wheeling College dedicated the Chapel of Mary and Joseph. The newly restored St. Joseph Cathedral was rededicated on August 16, 1996.
The Sisters of St. Joseph were founded in France around the year 1650 by a small group of women who were guided spiritually by Jean-Pierre Medaille, a Jesuit priest. With the blessing of the Bishop of LePuy, six women formed a community to serve the needs of the people of the town by caring for the sick in simple hospitals and serving orphan girls and women. They became known as “The Little Congregation of the Daughters of St. Joseph”
Their work expanded and new foundations began, however near the end of the 18th century, they were caught in the terrors of the French Revolution and eventually disbanded. In 1805 Mother St. John Fontbonne refounded the Congregation which again grew and spread throughout France. In 1836 Bishop Rosatti of St. Louis became aware of the work of these dedicated women and requested help for his diocese. In response Mother St. John sent six sisters to America. The American foundation flourished and several other Bishops requested assistance. Bishop Whelan, the first Bishop of the Wheeling Virginia Diocese, asked for sisters to assist in the care of poor immigrants and the sick at the newly established Wheeling Hospital (a building currently serving as a convent for our sisters on 15th Street in Wheeling). On April 13, 1853 four sisters arrived at the Port of Wheeling having traveled down the Mississippi and up the Ohio to Wheeling. Over the years the Congregation grew and expanded ministries throughout the state serving in health care, education, social services and parish ministry.
In 2003 as the Congregation celebrated its 150th Anniversary, the possibility of joining with other St. Joseph Congregations across the Midwest began to emerge. After several years of “meeting the relatives” and planning for the future, seven groups formed a new entity in 2007 – the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph. This included the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cleveland (OH), LaGrange (IL), Medaille (MN, OH, LA), Nazareth (MI), Tipton (IN), Wheeling (WV), and Wichita (KS, Japan). This was a wonderful moment of renewal and hope for our Congregations. Our sisters and associates continue to serve throughout these locations. (See map below)
For more information about our Congregation, please visit our website: www.csjoseph.org.
Mount St. Joseph
137 Mount St. Joseph Road
Wheeling, West Virginia 26003-1762