“Saint Joseph is most powerful against the demons which fight against us.”
—St. Alphonsus Liguori
The demonic loathe the saints of God. Many saints, from St. Anthony the Great to St. John Vianney, engaged in fierce battles with demons. Some of those fights got physical. However, only one saint is called the Terror of Demons.
St. Joseph is justly hailed as a patron of the Church, the poor, the workers, and the Guardian of the Redeemer, along with many other titles. And in the Litany of St. Joseph, we address the humble saint as the Terror of Demons and Protector of the Church. All these titles and addresses we make to St. Joseph stem from his loving, fatherly nature.
As the father of the Holy Family, Joseph had a role to protect the Lord Jesus and His Mother. This protection sometimes meant fleeing his homeland and the rage of a wrathful king but it could also be spiritual. Joseph heard the voice of the angel telling him to flee and he listened.
As a protector of the Holy Family, St. Joseph is often invoked against demons. Exorcist Msgr. Stephen J. Rossetti recounts one instance in Diary of an American Exorcist when an afflicted person told him of their devotion to St. Joseph before an exorcism. Msgr. Rossetti and his team then prayed, “St. Joseph, pray for us. St. Joseph cast out the demons.” At the name of St. Joseph, the demons cried out in anguish, even once saying, “No. Not him.”
As the priest and author Fr. Donald Calloway notes, “Saint Joseph’s fatherhood has power. The devil hates that Jesus and Mary obeyed the loving directives of St. Joseph. Now, in heaven, the intercessory power of St. Joseph poses a serious threat to the wiles of the devil and the devil knows it.”
Bl. Bartolo Longo: St. Joseph Aides a Converted Satanist
Blessed Bartolo Longo (1841–1926) came of age during the tumultuous 19th century in Italy. Italian nationalism and the dream of a united peninsula were growing while even more new ideas emerged. By the time he entered university, Bl. Bartolo was among one of many men in Italy searching for truth.
Bl. Bartolo was studying law at Naples when he attended his first seance. From there, Bl. Bartolo attended more seances and took a greater interest in the occult. Not satisfied with mediums, Bl. Bartolo sought a way to contact spirits directly. To that end, he made the tragic decision to consecrate himself to Satan in both will and spirit.
The young man would soon suffer hallucinations, nightmares, and bouts of ill health. Through the friendship and prayers of a professor and a Dominican priest, however, Bl. Bartolo reconciled with the Church and found peace. He would quickly become an apostle to the Rosary and also prayed daily to St. Joseph, especially emphasizing the saint’s role as the Terror of Demons.
Bl. Bartolo’s love for the Holy Family continued to grow. He would eventually establish The Shrine of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary of Pompei and encouraged the Rosary to anyone he met. He also encouraged devotion to St. Joseph, saying, “It is a great blessing for souls to be under the protection of the saint whose name makes demons tremble and flee.”
Out of devotion, Bl. Bartolo Longo wrote a book of devotions and meditations on St. Joseph for the month of March. Bl. Bartolo’s life gives us an example of the power of St. Joseph’s intercession. On his feast day, let us too call out to St. Joseph in our needs and pray with confidence, “St. Joseph, Terror of Demons, pray for us.”
Prayer to Saint Joseph
This prayer is from Fr. Donal Calloway’s wonderful book, Consecration to St. Joseph:
Saint Joseph, Terror of Demons, cast your solemn gaze upon the devil and all his minions and protect us with your mighty staff. You fled through the night to avoid the devil’s wicked designs; now with the power of God, smite the demons as they flee from you! Grant special protection, we pray, for children, fathers, families, and the dying. By God’s grace, no demon dares approach while you are near, so we beg of you, always be near to us! Amen.
There are so many great books on St. Joseph! One of my favorites is the classic by Fr. Maurice Meschler, The Truth about Saint Joseph. As you can see from the prayer, I found a lot of joy in Fr. Donald Calloway’s Consecration to St. Joseph. You can also read these great articles from Fr. Calloway, here on Catholic Exchange:
- “Now Is the Time to Consecrate Yourself to Saint Joseph”
- “Go to Joseph!”
- “Joyful Devotion to St. Joseph” (our interview with Fr. Calloway)
If you enjoy art as much as I do, art historian Elizabeth Lev wrote the informative and engaging book, The Silent Knight: A History of St. Joseph as Depicted in Art.
To learn more about Bl. Bartolo Longo, I recommend starting with Julie Onderko’s “Bl. Bartolo Longo: How the Rosary Can Save Your Life,” which is an excerpt from Discover Your Next Mission from God. Also see Fr. Calloway’s article, “How the Rosary Converted a Satanic Priest.”
On the spiritual warfare front, check out the new collection of interviews with Fr. Gabriele Amorth in The Pope’s Exorcist: 101 Questions About Fr. Gabriele Amorth. The late Fr. Amorth was the founder of the International Association of Exorcists and possibly the most famous exorcist of my lifetime. His other great book is An Exorcist Explains the Demonic.
Image by Bernadette Carstensen