Vatican City, 19 March 2014 (VIS) – “St. Joseph the educator” was the theme of the catechesis of today's general audience on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Mary's spouse and patron of the Universal Church. The Holy Father recalled the great mission of the saint who was able to “protect the Holy Virgin and the Son Jesus”. “We look upon Joseph as the model of the educator, who protects and accompanies Jesus in his journey of growth in wisdom, age and grace, as the Gospel tells us. He was not Jesus' father – Jesus' father was God – but he was a father to Jesus in order to raise him. And how did he enable him to grow? In wisdom, age and grace. … He raised him, ensuring that he lacked nothing necessary for his healthy development”.

He continued, “St. Joseph's mission is certainly unique and unrepeatable, as Jesus is absolutely unique. However, in protecting Jesus, in teaching him how to grow in age, wisdom and grace, he is a model for every educator, and in particular for every father”. Pope Francis gave his best wishes to all the fathers present and encouraged them always to be close to their children, “letting them grow, but always being nearby. They need you, your presence, your closeness, your love. Be, for them, like St. Joseph: protectors of their growth in age, wisdom and grace. Guardians of their path, and educators: walk alongside them. And with this closeness, you will be true educators”.

Before concluding, the Pope mentioned all those who have lost their fathers, and asked those present to pray the “Our Father” for all fathers, living and departed.

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