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Knights’ novena to St. Joseph marks 10th anniversary of Pope Francis’ pontificate

Pope Francis touches an icon of St. Joseph and the Christ Child presented to him by Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly, standing next to the pope, during a private audience at the Vatican Oct. 25, 2021. Kelly, as head of the Knights of Columbus, congratulated Pope Francis on his 10th anniversary as spiritual leader of the Catholic Church March 13, 2023, and invited Catholics to participate in a novena to St. Joseph for the pontiff. March 12 to March 20, when the feast of St. Joseph is observed in 2023 because with the March 19 solemnity will fall on Sunday. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (OSV News) — As he congratulated Pope Francis on his 10th anniversary as spiritual leader of the Catholic Church, Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly of the Knights of Columbus invited Catholics to participate in a novena to St. Joseph for the pontiff.

“Every time I’ve been blessed to meet Pope Francis, he has asked that we pray for him,” Kelly said in a statement released by the Catholic fraternal order headquartered in New Haven, Connecticut, ahead of the pope’s March 13 anniversary. “I know that I pray for him every day, and I call upon my brother Knights in every nation to pray with me for Pope Francis in a special way on the occasion of his anniversary.”

The novena began March 12 and concludes March 20, when the solemnity of St. Joseph is observed, since his feast day, March 19, falls on a Sunday in Lent this year.

Each day, the Knights of Columbus novena invites the faithful to reflect on a short prayer from Pope Francis, to offer a decade of the rosary, and to conclude with a special prayer for Pope Francis composed by Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, who is the Knights’ supreme chaplain.

The novena can be found at

The novena culminates March 20 with the Litany of St. Joseph, to which Pope Francis added seven new invocations May 1, 2021, the feast of St. Joseph the Worker: Guardian of the Redeemer; Servant of Christ; Minister of salvation; Guide in times of trouble; Protector of exiles; Protector of the afflicted; and Protector of the poor.

The daily reflection prayers are taken from Pope Francis’ cycle of 12 teaching sessions on St. Joseph, which he delivered during a series of general audiences from Nov. 17, 2021, through Feb. 16, 2022.

Since the beginning of his papacy in 2013, the Knights and Pope Francis “have demonstrated a shared and growing devotion to St. Joseph,” according to a March 10 news release announcing the novena.

The Knights noted Pope Francis had a private audience for the first time with the Knights of Columbus board of directors on Oct. 10, 2013, and commended the global Catholic fraternal order to St. Joseph, whom the pontiff called “the protector of the Holy Family of Nazareth, who is an admirable model of those manly virtues of quiet strength.”

According to the Knights, when Kelly first met with Pope Francis Oct. 23, 2020 — at the time, Kelly was the Deputy Supreme Knight prior to his installation as Supreme Knight in June 2021 — he presented the pope with a St. Joseph icon from the order’s Pilgrim Icon Program. The program continues to promote devotion to St. Joseph around the world through opportunities for rosary-based communal prayer organized by local councils.

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