18th General Congregation
November 13, 1962
Pope John XXIII has ordered that St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, be honored in Masses according to the Roman Rite by having his name included in the body of the Canon.
The Pope’s decision was revealed at the 18th general meeting of the Second Vatican Council. Amleto Cardinal Cicognani, president of the council’s Secretariat for Extraordinary Affairs, who made the announcement, said the name of St. Joseph will first be included in the canon of the Mass of the feast of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8.
The name of St. Joseph is to be inserted following that of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Communicantes, the third prayer after the Sanctus, which voices the fellowship of Christians joining in offering the Eucharistic Sacrifice today with saints who have gone before them. Thus St. Joseph’s name will precede those of the Apostles and a dozen early martyrs connected with the Church of Rome.
Cardinal Cicognani said that Pope John decided to give St. Joseph the new honor to put it on record that the Second Vatican Council so honored its patron.
It was not immediately clear whether the addition of St. Joseph’s name to the Communicantes prayer was being ordered for the Roman Rite alone or whether other Latin Rites would be affected. In the Roman Rite, the saints named after the Apostles begin with Linus, Cletus and Clement, who were the immediate successors of St. Peter as Bishops of Rome. The list has remained substantially unchanged since the sixth century.
But in the Ambrosian Rite, used in Milan, the names of those saints and the ones following them are replaced by a local list, beginning with SS. Hippolytus and Vincent.
The Roman Rite is predominant throughout the Western Church, however.
There is already a special Preface to the Canon which honors St. Joseph and which is sung or read in festal and votive Masses of St. Joseph.
The Pope’s action did not come out of the blue.
Over a year ago, it was revealed that a petition was being circulated in Italy and abroad asking that St. Joseph be given greater honor at Masses. The petition was said to have been signed by some 200 high Church officials, including cardinals and bishops, and by over 100,000 persons in the United States alone.
The petition asked that St. Joseph’s name be included in the Confiteor (the general confession), the Suscipe Sancta Trinitas (Receive, O Holy Trinity), the Communicantes, and the Libera Nos (Deliver us) at the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer.
Cardinal Cicognani in his announcement did not mention the prayers other than the Communicantes. It was presumed that the whole question would be clarified by decrees expected from the Sacred Congregation of Rites.