Saint Joseph of Nazareth stands at the door of the mission

From the time he was young, Joseph of Nazareth took a special place in Blessed Allamano’s heart, immediately after Jesus and Mary.

He had been privileged with the same name, therefore his liturgical feast of March 19, each year, became a recurring occasion to deepen the knowledge and the relationship with his protector. He never forgot that, during his stay at Valdocco, Don Bosco had invited him to pray to St. Joseph for two special intentions: “for health and help in the studies.”

The feast of St Joseph is approaching. May the words of Blessed Allamano help us to live it well. Best wishes to all those who bear his name.

(Fr Piero Trabucco, IMC, Allamano Birthplace)


(From the Book: “Scegliendo Fior da Fiore”, pp. 21-30)

From the time he was young, Joseph of Nazareth took a special place in Blessed Allamano’s heart, immediately after Jesus and Mary. He had been privileged with the same name, therefore his liturgical feast of March 19,

Each year, became a recurring occasion to deepen the knowledge and the relationship with his protector. He never forgot that, during his stay at Valdocco, Don Bosco had invited him to pray to St. Joseph for two special intentions: “for health and help in the studies.”18

Patron of the Church, the Institute, and the Mission

 On the occasion of the liturgical feast of the “Patronage of St. Joseph”, on May 11, 1919, Allamano gave a simple but documented speech on the mission of St. Joseph in relation to the Church, the Institute and the universal mission. Here are the main passages: “The Church makes us celebrate two feasts of St. Joseph’s: that of March 19 and this one of the Patronage. […]. Today’s Feast of Patronage is about our usefulness, our needs, which St. Joseph can and wants to help. He is the patron saint of the whole Church and was elected as such by Pius IX on December 8, 1870. Supplications to this effect were presented to the I Vatican Council from all over the world, and the Pope heard them on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the same year.

St. Joseph is the universal patron of all states and conditions of persons, especially of workers and communities that worthily bear his name or give him special devotion. He is the special Patron of the missions of China, elected as such in 1678 with the approval of Pope Innocent XI. The Passionists in England placed their Province under his protection. For Kenya, St. Joseph’s is the “door”… St. Joseph extends his patronage to all the needs and tribulations of those who have recourse to him.”25

Even in his foundations, Allamano reserved a place of privilege for St. Joseph. As early as 1903, when the first missionaries had just settled in Kenya, he entrusted to him the Institute and the missions: “After Our Lord and our patroness the Consolata, St. Joseph comes for our Institute. So, the first station in Africa was entrusted to him.”26 It reminded the missionaries of St. Joseph’s privileged position as guardian and gateway to the missions:

« Remember that our first station in Africa where you have to go is St. Joseph’s, and if he doesn’t let you pass, you won’t be able to go on a mission. St. Joseph stood at the door on purpose. Be devoted to him;he is a great saint.”27

When, much later, he explained the Constitutions to his students, Allamano repeated the same concept: “First of all, the patron saint is the Consolata, whom we must honor in a special way under this title because she gave us her name and took us under her mantle. […]. Then there is St. Joseph, who immediately holds the first place.”28

St. Joseph and Africa

Allamano also places Africa under St. Joseph’s protection dedicating the first mission of his sons and daughters. In other words he said:

“In this year – it was 1916 during the First World War – we have special reasons to do well the month of St. Joseph; […]. St. Joseph, Patron of the universal Church and Head of the Holy Family, can through his intercession obtain for us an end to the war. For us, he is the special protector of our missions in Africa. If, according to St. Maximus, St. Joseph is the special protector of Asia, where he was born, lived and died; it is also true of Africa, where he spent five or seven years, fleeing the persecution of Herod […]. But in this year the most special reason to honor him is the recently obtained conversion of the great chief Karoli, who took the Saint’s name. Let us thank St. Joseph for his special protection, let us pray that he may confirm him in the faith he embraced, and through him may obtain the conversion of the whole of Kikuyu.”29

Keeper of the Good Deposit [treasure]

St. Joseph was held up as a model of fidelity to his vocation, from beginning to end, without second thoughts. To the good wishes for his name day, on March 19, 1918, Allamano replied: “I saw that you wrote around the picture of St. Joseph – ‘Keep what has been entrusted to you (1 Tim 6:20)’. The Church applies it to St. Joseph […], but we can also apply it to ourselves regard the Institute. We have to preserve the treasure of good spirit, activities and customs, as it was at the beginning of the Institute. […]. I want the Rules to be preserved in this house, then the practices and customs of the early days of the Institute.”30 That same day Allamano spoke similar words to the Missionary Sisters: “The treasure must be safeguarded, increased so to preserve that goodwill that we had when we came. This is the treasure; so, don’t let anything slip away. You will understand that the best wish you will give me is to keep this treasure. I will have to give an account of the treasure, so let each one be faithful to keep it.”31

The reason why Allamano made this strong appeal, on the Feast of his Patron, can be understood by reading the personal note of Fr. Giuseppe Richetta had written at the bottom of the conference to the missionaries: “I remember that when he said these words [Allamano] was rather sad. Just two months earlier, Fr. Umberto Costa, who enjoyed all his confidence as director of the House, had died; and perhaps, the Founder, feared that we might depart from his spirit.”32 It is interesting, however, that it was the fidelity of St. Joseph that inspired Allamano, to urge the missionaries to the fidelity to the original charism, which must be preserved and developed.

Model of industriousness, in the presence of Jesus and Mary

Allamano presented St. Joseph as a “teacher of the interior life”, exalted his interior virtues and emphasized his concreteness as a hard-working man committed to everyday life. It is this aspect that appears most in Allamano’s teaching, because he intended to prepare concrete, committed and hard-working missionaries, who were not afraid to get their hands dirty. This is what he said to encourage people to do the novena well in preparation for the feast of the year 1915:

“Tomorrow we begin the novena of St. Joseph. […]. He is a great saint, you know; without being unfair to anyone, he comes immediately after Our Lady. […]. He is a teacher of the spiritual life; we do not read that he ever performed miracles in life […]. When there was no bread, there was no Angel, no; he worked and then sold the work. The Lord led him like all the others, he earned food for himself, for the Child and for Our Lady. […]. He was a poor worker, […]; He did not study, he worked. So when you need to work physically, do not feel bad, the work doesn’t have to shame you.”33

While insisting on the duty to work, Allamano also emphasized a characteristic virtue of St. Joseph, of being “always in the presence of Jesus and Mary”. “St. Joseph is the patron and will always be the principal protector of the Institute. Missionaries live a life that is rather varied in nature, which could lead to dissipation, therefore, it is necessary to imitate St. Joseph, who, in the midst of all his external works united himself to Jesus and Mary. He had to work to maintain them, but he was always in their presence. […]. If there is a saint made for missionaries, it is St. Joseph.”34As a model of industriousness, St. Joseph was designated special patron of the Coadjutor Brothers who are non-priest missionaries, who are particularly charged with the work in the missions. Allamano wanted to make this clear on the feast of the “Patronage of St. Joseph” in 1921: “St. Joseph is the protector of all, clerics, coadjutors and priests: woe to those who do not have devotion to St. Joseph! After Our Lady, he is the dispenser of all graces. […]. For you brothers it must be a holy pride that the Church has preferred a saint who was not a priest to make him the patron saint of the whole Church. This must teach you to love your work, to do your job well, to correspond to your vocation. […]. How many coadjutors have become Saints!”35

Model of Virtues Needed by the Missionary

Although he highlighted the industriousness of St. Joseph, Allamano also proposed him as a model of other virtues necessary for missionaries. He even said: “St. Joseph is the repository of all the virtues. It was in the possession of Our Lord and Our Lady, so all they had was the deposit.”36

Model of inner life. Here Allamano highlighted the “life of faith” and the “silence” of St. Joseph: “We are devotees of St. Joseph. […]. I propose him to you especially to obtain the “hidden life”. It consists […] in staying continually with God. Enjoy his presence, his words, and his deeds; do his will. In short, to be with God, as a friend is with a friend.”37

Model of obedience. The behaviour that St. Joseph had after the dream narrated in Mt 2:13-15 was indicated as an expression of obedience. Allamano gave the missionaries an effective description: “Yesterday morning I was meditating on the flight [of the Holy Family] into Egypt: [I read]: ‘Arise, take the Child and his Mother; flee to Egypt and stay there as long as I tell you.” “Arise…”: St. Joseph, poor fellow, was asleep; the Angel shook him quickly; He jumped up and then fled. St. Joseph must have thought: But how can we escape? Is not this Child the Son of God? And why am I commanded by the Eternal Father to flee? No! None of that; he has not been there to meditate and judge; He received the order and fled. And: “You will stay there as long as I tell you.”  He could ask: “But how long? I have my instruments: should I take them with me?” We, curious people, would have done so at once, but he did not; it must have occurred to him, but he paid no attention to it; it was God’s will, and he departed.”38

A model of perfection in the little things. Following the spirit of his uncle St. Joseph Cafasso, Allamano taught that holiness does not consist in extraordinary acts, which occur rarely, but in constancy in doing good deeds well, in all ordinary situations, every day. St. Joseph, together with Our Lady, was also a model of this attitude: “And Our Lady and St. Joseph have done miracles, great things…” They lived a common life, like everyone else.”39

“Do all things well. […]. St. Joseph and Our Lady, and Our Lord Himself, what did they do in this life? They worked. Our Lord […] for 30 years was a carpenter and so was St. Joseph, and Our Lady prepared food and all those things that are proper to a family.”40

A model of love for Mary and Jesus. The trinomial “Jesus-Mary-Joseph” was constantly remembered. Allamano noted it in the acronym, in the Latin formulation: “J.M.J.”, at the beginning of many letters. In particular, he emphasizes this in the events of Jesus’ childhood, such as the birth, the presentation in the Temple, the flight into Egypt, the loss in Jerusalem. On one occasion, he began the lecture to the Consolata Missionary Sisters with these words that deserve to be framed for their simplicity: “Ask St. Joseph for true devotion to Our Lady. And then she will give it to Jesus.”41 Other similar expressions: “I hope that St. Joseph will be pleased… and if he is happy, Our Lady and the Lord are happy.”42.  “If we pass through St. Joseph, let us still pass through Our Lady, because they are one.”43

Intercessor to pray.

In addition to being a model to be imitated, Allamano presented

St. Joseph also as an intercessor to be prayed to: “Tomorrow [February 18, 1911] the month of St. Joseph begins.  In public little is done, but in private in this month you must pray a lot to St. Joseph, every day: there are so many ejaculations, “Jesus, Joseph and Mary…”; ” St. Joseph, friend of the Sacred Heart, pray to Jesus for us”, and others that you will find in your devotional books. But those who love St. Joseph do not need to find ejaculations in a book…they make them. But to honor a saint it is not enough to pray to him, we must also imitate him, imitate his virtues.44

The same recommendation was made to the missionaries in view of the mission: “St. Joseph is a most valid intercessor with God: therefore, when you are in Africa, you should turn to him to ask for all graces, both spiritual and temporal.”45


18  Conf. IMC II. 106

25  Conf. IMC, III, 299.

26  Conf. IMC, I, 47.

27  Conf. SMC, II, 512.;

28  Conf. IMC, III, 377

29  Conf. IMC, II 502;

30  Conf. IMC, III, 208

31  Conf. SMC, II, 254.

32  Conf. IMC, III, 228.

33  Conf. IMC, II, 228;

34  Conf. IMC, III, 670;

35  Conf. IMC, III, 563.

36  Conf. SMC, II, 512.

37  Conf. IMC, I, 176;

38  Conf. SMC, I, 298;

39  Conf. SMC, III, 164

40  Conf. SMC, III, 520.

41  Conf. SMC, II, 496

42  Conf. SMC III, 224

43  Conf. SMC III, 407

44  Conf. IMC, I, 375

45   Conf. SMC, I, 72 18;

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