St. Joseph, the model of fatherhood, is also part of the Fatima apparitions. When the one hundredth anniversary of Fatima was celebrated in 2017, many people renewed their acquaintance with the Miracle of the Sun, and many others may have heard about it for the first time. But few realize that during the October 1917 apparition, St. Joseph also appeared.
Lucia described this blessed appearance in her memoirs:
“After Our Lady had disappeared into the immense distance of the firmament, we beheld St. Joseph with the Child Jesus and Our Lady robed in white with a blue mantle, beside the sun. St. Joseph and the Child Jesus seemed to bless the world, for they traced the Sign of the Cross with their hands.”Memoirs, 183.
The Holy Family’s presence at the last Fatima apparition is a timely reminder for today’s families and a timely reminder of the importance of St. Joseph himself. We forget St. Joseph too often, but we should correct that. Fatima is a reminder to call on him frequently — daily, in fact. After all, he is the foster father of Jesus, the head of the Holy Family. His name appears in the Canon of the Mass, and, after our Blessed Mother, he is the greatest of all saints and angels.
The Fatherhood of St. Joseph
Among its other meanings, Fatima is a reminder of the importance of fatherhood. “The fatherhood of St. Joseph, as with all human fathers, is a reflection in a creature of the fatherhood of God the Father,” emphasized Monsignor Joseph Cirrincione in his booklet St. Joseph, Fatima and Fatherhood. “The vision of St. Joseph and the Infant Jesus blessing the world, with Mary by the side of the sun, which has not left its place, is God’s assurance that although man may reject Him, God will never reject man.”
When the peaceful scene is disrupted by the sun’s gyrations during the Miracle of the Sun, Monsignor Cirrincione sees “an ominous foreshadowing of the consequences for the world, which are sure to be felt if the true fatherhood of God and the traditional strong role of the father of the family are rejected by mankind.”
He adds, “The Miracle of the Sun represents not so much a threat of evils to come as it does a foreshadowing of the dethronement of God the Father and an intimation of the appalling consequences to follow.”
All we need to do is look at the attacks on fatherhood and the family during the latter half of the twentieth century, which increased as we entered the twenty-first century. St. Joseph appearing at Fatima was surely a warning about what might happen if we didn’t heed the messages of Fatima. Monsignor Cirrincione explains, “Since human fatherhood, as a reflection of the fatherhood of God, was designed to be the pillar of the family, the disappearance of esteem for fatherhood has led to the collapse of that pillar and to the disintegration of the family.”
St. Joseph’s appearance at Fatima during the final apparition is yet another heavenly message about his importance in this respect and in other respects as well.
St. Joseph may not have used words during his appearance, but as head of the Holy Family, his silence speaks eloquently about the company we keep.
Let’s ask ourselves: Whom did he spend time with every day? Whom did he live with? Whom did he talk to and listen to? The answer is simple and clear: Mary and Jesus.
What a lesson St. Joseph gives to fathers, and what a model he provides for them as a foundation for leading their families! In fact, what a lesson it is for every member of the family!
St. Joseph & Fathers Today
Fathers today — and this goes for father figures too — need to spend time with Jesus and Mary every day, modeling themselves after St. Joseph. He shows the way. Daily Mass, Scripture reading, and quiet prayer are all good ways to spend quality time with Jesus and Mary.
Speaking of St. Joseph, Pope Francis said:
Joseph was for Jesus the example and the teacher of the wisdom that is nourished by the Word of God. We could ponder how Joseph formed the little Jesus to listen to the Sacred Scriptures, above all by accompanying him on Saturday to the Synagogue in Nazareth. Joseph accompanied Jesus so that he would listen to the Word of God in the Synagogue. . . . St Joseph is the model of the educator and the dad, the father.Pope Francis, General Audience, March 19, 2014.
The father, layman, or priest who models St. Joseph by spending time visibly every day with Jesus and Mary will, by silent example, bring his family closer to the Holy Family. At home, the domestic church will become a stronghold, a fortress, built on the most solid of foundations that nothing will shake.
Simple, ordinary life presents constant occasions for holiness in daily tasks. John Paul II affirmed this reality in Redemptoris Custos: “St. Joseph . . . is the proof that in order to be a good and genuine follower of Christ . . . it is enough to have the common, simple, and human virtues, but they need to be true and authentic.”
If the Rosary had been around two thousand years ago, surely St. Joseph would have prayed it daily. After all, wasn’t it eventually given to us by his wife? And at Fatima, did she not ask us to pray it daily? And doesn’t a loving husband want to please his wife in all things good, especially for eternal salvation of souls?
Didn’t St. Joseph live the Joyful Mysteries daily with Jesus and Mary? It’s time to do what the Bible says: Ite ad Joseph — “go to Joseph” (Gen. 41:55) — and follow his lead.
Speaking of St. Joseph, the Rosary, and Fatima, years before the apparitions and before anyone knew of Fatima, there was already a foreshadowing of the events to come. Pope Leo XIII, in his 1883 encyclical Supremi Apostolatus Officio, consecrated October to Our Lady of the Rosary — the title Mary would use to identify herself at Fatima during the October apparition. And in his 1889 encyclical Quamquam Pluries, Pope Leo asked “for the Christian people continually to invoke, with great piety and trust, together with the Virgin Mother of God, her chaste Spouse, the Blessed Joseph.”
Because of the “high importance,” of devotion to St. Joseph in the daily practices of Catholics, Pope Leo provided a prayer to St. Joseph to be recited after the Rosary during October:
To thee, O blessed Joseph, we have recourse in our affliction, and having implored the help of your thrice-holy Spouse, we now, with hearts filled with confidence, earnestly beg you also to take us under your protection. By that charity wherewith you were united to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God, and by that fatherly love with which you cherished the Child Jesus, we beseech you and we humbly pray that you will look down with gracious eye upon that inheritance which Jesus Christ purchased by His blood, and will succor us in our need by your power and strength.
Defend, O most watchful guardian of the Holy Family, the chosen offspring of Jesus Christ. Keep from us, O most loving father, all blight of error and corruption. Aid us from on high, most valiant defender, in this conflict with the powers of darkness. And even as of old you rescued the Child Jesus from the peril of His life, so now defend God’s Holy Church from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity. Shield us ever under your patronage, that, following your example and strengthened by your help, we may live a holy life, die a happy death, and attain to everlasting bliss in Heaven. Amen.
Keeping the holy example of St. Joseph in mind is a key part of Catholic devotion. As Pope Leo wrote, “The Blessed Patriarch looks upon the multitude of Christians who make up the Church as confided specially to his trust — this limitless family spread over the earth, over which, because he is the spouse of Mary and the father of Jesus Christ, he holds, as it were, a paternal authority.”
And less than thirty years later, St. Joseph would appear at Fatima together with the Child Jesus, blessing the world and it’s “limitless family spread over the earth.”
Pope Leo wrote also, “It is, then, natural and worthy that as the Blessed Joseph ministered to all the needs of the family at Nazareth and girt it about with his protection, he should now cover with the cloak of his heavenly patronage and defend the Church of Jesus Christ.”
Further, one of the greatest benefits connected with the scapular is that “being special children of Mary the scapular-wearers are all special children of St. Joseph, her spouse,” according to John Haffert. If one parent adopts a child, certainly the spouse does the same. As we are children of Mary, so we’re also adopted by her spouse, Joseph. If she is Mother of the scapular family, he is the father of the scapular family. They clothe us their children, feed us, and educate us with virtue. Haffert goes so far as to say that we become “a family of predestined ones” that anyone can become a part of.
“Anyone may join them and enjoy the special love of those parents whom God molded to the greatest possible perfection. Such is the significance of Mary and Joseph in the Scapular.”John Haffert, Mary in Her Scapular Promise, 2nd ed. (Sea Isle, NJ: Scapular Press, 1942), 148.
With these heavenly parents of our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph, how can we help but stay safely on the right, narrow path heavenward?
Now that we know these details and forgotten Fatima facts, we should be running to listen to Our Lady and to get enrolled in the brown scapular to wear it as her uniform — especially knowing that we have St. Joseph there as a silent part of the scapular devotion.
St. Joseph has been neglected for too long. Fatima reminds us of this fact, shows us his boundless importance, and urges us on to go to St. Joseph and to honor him.
This article is adapted from a chapter in Joseph Pronechen’s The Fruits of Fatima: A Century of Signs and Wonders. It is available as an ebook or paperback from your favorite bookseller or online through Sophia Institute Press.
We also reccomend the series “The Immaculate Heart for the World,” which examines the famous Fatima statue and how the artist constructed the image of Our Lady of Fatima with the help Sister Lucia. Click here for part one.