.- Pope Benedict XVI celebrated the March 19 Solemnity of St. Joseph, his namesake, by delivering a sermon on the saint's virtues.
Pope Benedict XVI, who was baptized Joseph Ratzinger, offered his thanks for all the prayers said on his behalf during his Sunday Angelus address on March 18.
“Dear friends,” he said, addressing the pilgrims who gathered in St. Peter's Square for the noon prayer, “tomorrow we celebrate the feast of St. Joseph. I sincerely thank all those who have remembered me in prayer in the days before my name day.”
St. Joseph’s feast day is normally a holiday at the Vatican because he is the patron saint of the Church. But during the reign of Pope Benedict the holiday has an additional significance, given his name.
The festivities for today’s feast were low key since the Pope is preparing for his March 23-29 visit to Cuba and Mexico.
“In particular, I ask you to pray for the apostolic trip to Mexico and Cuba that I will begin next Friday,” he said at the Sunday Angelus.
Pope Benedict did make time for a brief telephone call in which he exchanged best wishes with Italian prime minister Mario Monti, whose birthday is on the feast of St. Joseph.
Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said that the Pope spoke about his patron “in a beautiful sermon that expressed not only his devotion, but also the inspiration he receives from this humble and sublime model.”
“Saint Joseph guided his family ‘as one who serves,’” Father Lombardi said. “He teaches us that one can love without possessing, and he reveals to us the secret of living in the presence of mystery. In him there is no separation between faith and action, because his faith had a decisive effect on his actions."