Today, faithful around the world honor St. Joseph, the humble foster father of Jesus who is patron saint to workers and fathers. Yesterday, Pope Benedict reflected on this key figure in the Church‘s history, saying that his simplicity and humility should help Christians live out whatever role God grants to them in life with faithfulness.

The Pope’s words came just prior to his Sunday angelus prayer, which was held in St. Peter’s Square in the presence of thousands.

Benedict first recalled the devotion of his predecessor, John Paul II's to St. Joseph "to whom he dedicated his Apostolic Exhortation 'Redemptoris Custos', Guardian of the Redeemer, and whose assistance he surely felt at the hour of his death."

He went on, highlighting Joseph’s profound importance in the history of salvation, beginning with his belonging to the tribe of Judah. This "united Jesus to the line of David" and ensured that the messianic promises were fulfilled in Him.

"Like his wife Mary," Benedict continued, St. Joseph "showed himself to be the true heir of the faith of Abraham: faith in God Who guides the events of history according to His mysterious salvific plan."

Pointing out that St. Joseph's greatness "is even more evident because his mission took place in the humility and obscurity of his house in Nazareth,” the Pope said that “Indeed God Himself, in the Person of His Son incarnate, chose this way of life and this path in His earthly existence."

He told the crowd that St. Joseph's example presents all the faithful with "a powerful invitation to perform the role that Providence has assigned us with faithfulness, simplicity and modesty.”

He particularly highlighted the role of “fathers and mothers in families,” adding his prayers “that they may always know how to appreciate the beauty of a simple and hard-working life, carefully cultivating their conjugal relationship and enthusiastically accomplishing the great, and by no means easy, mission of education."

Concluding his midday remarks, Pope Benedict entrusted to St. Joseph "priests who exercise their paternity over ecclesial communities, ... consecrated people in their joyful and faithful observance of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience," and "workers of the entire world, that they may contribute with their various professions to the progress of humanity entire."