If you notice the Apostolate banner, we see I have placed a golden maple leaf in the right hand of the Child Jesus and also in the top portion of the crown of St Joseph: this is to emphasize St Joseph's patronage over my country, Canada. St Joseph is also the Patron of my Archdiocese, Winnipeg. It saddens me to know that many Canadians have no clue that St Joseph is the Patron Saint of our nation.

From the very beginning, New France (Canada) had placed St Joseph in a position of honor for the new country. At the time, the feast day of St Joseph, on March 19, had just been made mandatory for the whole Church in 1621 under Pope Gregory XV. There was a new sense of appreciation and vigor for devotion to St Joseph, as was made evident by the Canadian missionaries. It was the missionary Joseph Le Caron who chose St Joseph as the Patron Saint of New France (Canada.) Le Caron wrote of the Huron Indians and the difficulties of the work of evangelization. He noted on March 19, 1624: "We held a great feast in honor of St Joseph where all the inhabitants were included, several wild. This feast was held as a vow we made to St. Joseph, choosing him as Patron of New France.”

In 1637, Father Le Jeune wrote that "the feast of the glorious Patriarch St. Joseph, father, patron and protector of New France, is one of the great solemnities of the country." It was under his patronage that was accomplished the evangelization of the Indians and Joseph’s name was given to the majority of new converts. The custom of bestowing the name of Joseph, either as first or middle name, was quickly established in New France, and continues to this day among many French-Canadian Roman Catholics.

Many chapels and churches of Canada are dedicated to him, the oldest being in the territory of the Diocese of Saint-Jean-Longueuil. It is the parish of Saint-Joseph-de-Chambly whose canonical dates back to 1665. The largest shrine in the world dedicated to St Joseph is on Mount Royal in Montreal, St Joseph's Oratory, which is also the final resting place of the body of St André Bessette.

                                                                         Canada and the Divine Praises

In 1911 the act of the First Plenary Council of Quebec (Canada) to include St Joseph, after the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the Divine Praises was approved, with the invocation "Blessed be St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse."

In 1920 Bishop Grouard asked Pope Benedict XV to extend the Canadian practice to the whole Church. That same year the Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambéry, France, were allowed to add in all their houses throughout the world "Blessed be the Holy Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary." On February 23, 1921, Benedict XV decreed that the invocation "Blessed be St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse" be added to the Divine Praises throughout the entire Church.


Blessed Pope John Paul II Prayer Whilst on Pilgrimage to St Joseph's Oratory, Montreal, Canada

Saint Joseph, with you, for you, we bless the Lord. He chose you among all men to be the chaste spouse of Mary,the one who would remain at the threshold of the mystery of her divine maternity, and who, after her, would accept it in faith as the work of the Holy Spirit. You gave to Jesus legal paternity in the line of David.You constantly watched over the Mother and the Child with an affectionate concern, in order to protect their lives and to allow them to accomplish their destiny. The Saviour Jesus deigned to submit himself to you, as to a father, throughout his childhood and adolescence and to receive from you an apprenticeship in human life, while you shared his life in the adoration of his mystery.

You remain at his side. Continue to protect the whole church, the family born of the salvation of Jesus. Protect especially the people of Canada who have placed themselves under your patronage. Help them to come closer to the mystery of Christ in that attitude of faith, submission and love that was your own. See the spiritual and material needs of all those who beg your intercession, particularly families and those who are poor, in every sense; through you, they are certain to find Mary's maternal face and the hand of Jesus to assist them.

And you, Blessed (Saint) Brother Andre Bessette, porter of the college and keeper of this Oratory, give hope to all those who continue to seek your help. Teach them confidence in the virtue of prayer, and, with it, the path of conversion and the sacraments. Through you and through Saint Joseph, may God continue to pour out his blessings on the Congregation of the Holy Cross, on all those who come to this Oratory, on the City of Montreal, on the people of Quebec, on the Canadian people, and on the whole church. + Amen.