On the Cord of Saint Joseph

Its Origin

The devotion to the Cord of Saint Joseph took its rise in the town of Antwerp (Belgium), in the year 1657, in consequence of a miraculous cure effected by the wearing of this precious girdle.

At the above epoch there lived at Antwerp an Augustinian nun remarkable for her piety, called Sister Elizabeth, who, during three years, had suffered excruciating pains, occasioned by a most cruel distemper. She had then reached such a stage that the physicians, seeing no resource possible, declared her death to be inevitable, and fast approaching. Losing all hope in human aid, the Sister addressed herself to heaven, and having always had a particular devotion to Saint Joseph, she prayed him to intercede with our Lord for her recovery. At the same time she had a cord blessed in the Saint’s honour, girded herself with it, and a few days after, as she was praying before his image, she found herself all of a sudden freed from pain. Those who knew the disease and its nature, in her instance, declared her recovery miraculous. An authentic act was drawn up in presence of a public notary, and a Protestant physician could not help proclaiming the truth.

This fact, related by the Bollandists, was admitted by the author of a ‘Month of Saint Joseph,’ published at Rome in 1810. The reading of this book in 1842, in Saint Nicholas’s Church at Verona, where the devotion of the Month of March was beginning to be practised, brought to the knowledge of several persons the event above related. Immediately, in imitation of the religious of Antwerp, many patients, animated by a tender piety towards Saint Joseph, procured a cord blessed in the Church of Saint Nicholas, where there is a chapel (since become a celebrated sanctuary) consecrated to the Saint.

Numerous special graces were obtained and the devotion soon spread rapidly. Hundreds of cords were despatched to France, Belgium, all parts of Italy, and even to America and Asia.

The cord of Saint Joseph was asked, not merely as a remedy against bodily ailments, but also as a preservative of the virtue of purity. Ere long, his lordship the Bishop of Verona became aware of the necessity of addressing a supplication to the Congregation of Rites, which he did by a letter bearing date January 14, 1859. After a mature examination the Sacred Congregation, in accordance with the request, approved, by a Rescript of September 19, 1859, the new formula of blessing, and permitted its solemn and private use. Finally, his lordship obtained for the Association of the Cord of Saint Joseph the privilige of being declared ‘primarie,’ and at the same time His Holiness Pope Pius lX. enriched it with precious indulgences.

Graces Attached to the Wearing of the Cord of Saint Joseph

Graces precious to the piety of Saint Joseph’s servants are attached to the wearing of his cord. They are: —- 1st, Saint Joseph’s special protection; 2, purity of soul; 3, the grace of chastity; 4, final perseverance; 5, particular assistance at the hour of death.

Nature of the Cord and Manner of Wearing It

The Cord of Saint Joseph should be of thread or cotton, ending at one extremity in seven knots, indicative of the joyful, dolorous, and glorious mysteries of the august Patriarch.

It is worn as a girdle, and ought to be blessed by a priest possessing powers to engird one with it.

Prayers of the Holy Cord

Recite daily in honour of Saint Joseph seven times Gloria Patri, together with the following prayer:

O Saint Joseph, Father and Protector of Virgins, to whose faithful custody Child Jesus, Innocence itself, and Mary Virgin of Virgins, were committed; I pray and beseech thee by these dear pledges Jesus and Mary, that being preserved from all uncleanness, I may with spotless mind, pure heart and chaste body, ever most chastely serve Jesus and Mary all the days of my life. Amen.

Plenary Indulgences Attached to the Cord of Saint Joseph

1. On the day of entrance into the Association.

2. On the day of the Feast of the Espousals of the Blessed Virgin and Saint Joseph (January 23rd).

3. On the 19th of March, the Feast of Saint Joseph, and on one of the seven days which immediately follow that festival.

4. On the Patronage of Saint Joseph (3rd Sunday after Easter).

5. At the article of death, for all the Associates who, being truly pentitent, and having confessed their sins, shall receive the Holy Viaticum; or who, not being able to do this, shall invoke with the mouth or at least with the heart the Name of Jesus.

Conditions for Gaining the Said Indulgences

1. To be truly contrite, and to confess and communicate.

2. To visit the church or chapel of the Association or any other church or public oratory.

3. To pray there for peace between Christian princes, the extirpation of heresies, and the exaltation of our holy Mother the Church.

The plenary indulgence of a priviliged altar is attached to all Masses celebrated for a departed Associate.

An indulgence of seven years and seven quarantines on each of the Sundays which come immediately after the Ember Saturdays for the Associates who shall visit with a contrite heart the church of the Arch-Confraternity, and there pray for the intentions of the Sovereign Pontiff.

All these indulgences are applicable to the souls in Purgatory.