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Meat Friday: Thanks, St. Joseph

Friday, March 19 is the Solemnity of St. Joseph. It’s also a Friday in Lent — which usually means no meat.

At The Pillar, we have heard from a lot of Catholics in the past week, all with the same question: “Can we eat meat on St. Joseph’s Day?

Of course, we could just tell you the answer. But we decided to write a whole explainer instead.

What’s the solemnity of St. Joseph?

The 19th of March has been celebrated as a feast for St. Joseph since at least the tenth century, and has been listed in the Church’s calendar in Rome since 1479, and on the universal calendar since 1570. A solemnity is a feast of the highest order in the Church.

In the early Church, devotion to St. Joseph was especially prominent among Eastern Christians. Egyptian Coptic Christians, for example, were celebrating feasts for St. Joseph beginning in the fourth century, a few centuries before devotion to St. Joseph became especially noticeable or prominent, among Latin Catholics in the West.

In the 14th and 15th centuries, Franciscan missionaries began to promote devotion to St. Joseph in Europe, and in the early 1400s, Jean Gerson, a prominent French preacher and academic, urged deep devotion across France. That devotion gained steam in Europe: the solemnity was made universal in 1570, in 1714, Pope Clement XI introduced an office of prayer for St. Joseph, and in 1729, the saint was introduced into the liturgical litany of saints. By 1870, devotion had grown so much that St. Joseph was declared patron of the universal Church.

Read more at The Pillar

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