On December 8, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady and the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of St. Joseph as the Patron of the Universal Church, Pope Francis announced a special year dedicated to St. Joseph starting from 8 December 2020 until 8 December 2021.
The Apostolic Penitentiary has issued a decree granting plenary indulgences for the duration of the special year. Noting that “devotion to St. Joseph has grown extensively throughout the history of the Church”, the decree encourages the faithful to imitate St. Joseph, head of the Holy Family of Nazareth, by devoting themselves to prayer and daily good works, and, through the intercession of St. Joseph, to experience “comfort and relief from the serious human and social tribulations that besiege the contemporary world today.”
Conditions for acquiring Plenary Indulgences
A. Basic Conditions:
A spirit detached from any sin, sacramental confession (within three weeks either before or after the performance of one of the works listed under Section B), Eucharistic Communion, and prayer for the Pope’s intentions (may be satisfied by reciting one Our Father and one Hail Mary).
B. Performance of one of the following Works:
(a) meditation for at least 30 minutes on the Lord’s Prayer, or taking part in a spiritual retreat of at least one day that includes a meditation on St. Joseph, “an authentic man of faith who invites us to rediscover our filial relationship with the Father, to renew fidelity to prayer, and to listen and correspond with profound discernment to God’s will.”
(b) performing a spiritual or corporal work of mercy by following the example of St. Joseph, who “encourages us to rediscover the value of silence, prudence and loyalty in carrying out our duties,”.
(c) recitation of the Holy Rosary in families and among engaged couples, in order that “all Christian families may be stimulated to recreate the same atmosphere of intimate communion, love and prayer that was in the Holy Family.”
(d) entrusting one’s daily activities to the protection of St. Joseph, or invoking the intercession of St. Joseph “that those seeking work can find dignifying work, that the dignity of work be recognized by all, and that it inspires social life and laws, based on the fair distribution of rights and duties.”
(e) reciting the Litany to St. Joseph (for the Latin tradition), or the Akathistos to St. Joseph (for the Byzantine tradition), or any other prayer to St. Joseph proper to the other liturgical traditions, for the persecuted Church ad intra and ad extra, and for the relief of all Christians suffering all forms of persecution, so as to experience, just as the Holy Family had experienced during its flight to Egypt, that God is there where man is in danger, where man suffers, where he flees, where he experiences rejection and abandonment.”
(f) reciting any legitimately approved prayer or act of piety in honour of St. Joseph, for example, “To you, O blessed Joseph”, especially on “19 March, on 1 May, the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, on St. Joseph’s Sunday (according to the Byzantine tradition), on the 19th of each month and every Wednesday, a day dedicated to the memory of the saint according to the Latin tradition.”
(g) For the Sick: Amid the ongoing Covid-19 health crisis, the sick, the elderly, the dying and all those who for legitimate reasons are unable to leave their homes, can likewise obtain the plenary indulgences if they, detached from any sin, have the intention of fulfilling, as soon as possible, the three usual conditions and recite an act of piety in honour of St. Joseph, offering to God the pains and hardships of their lives.
The Role of Priests
The Apostolic Penitentiary encourages priests to pastorally facilitate the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance and the administration of Holy Communion to the sick with a willing and generous spirit.