Josef Bamberg

Posted On 2022-12-20 In Campaign, Covenant Life

A new task for St. Joseph: patron of the Pilgrim Mother Campaign in Bamberg

GERMANY, Renate Siebenkäs • 

Today, on the Fourth of Advent, we look with the whole Church to St. Joseph. Quite wrongly, as it was said today in the Holy Mass in St. Hippolytus in Troisdorf, so often portrayed as an old man or unworldly baroque. Whoever is looking for a representation of St. Joseph that shows him dynamically and as a man, father, and craftsman, will find what he is looking for in the Schoenstatt shrine of the Bamberg diocese on the Marienberg near Scheßlitz. And here, a few weeks ago, St. Joseph received yet another “post,” and this thanks to the Pilgrim Mother Campaign. —

Saint Joseph really cannot complain that he has too little to do. He is the patron saint of the Church, the family, workers, married couples, refugees, and travelers, and ultimately the patron saint of the dying. The listing does not claim to be complete.

That should actually be enough for St. Joseph, to be an intercessor for so many people at the same time and to take care of their concerns. Now this too! The pilgrim circles – missionaries of the Campaign and those who receive the visit of the Pilgrim Mother – in the diocese of Bamberg have now also chosen St. Joseph, this strong man with creative courage, as their patron saint.

A father with heart
Looking ahead on the road, his child by the hand.
Taking care that his foot does not hit a stone.
Lovingly he leads his child past the obstacle.
He himself remains protectively in the background.
He lets the child entrusted to him go first.
His gesture shows: “Look, here is the child, my Jesus, Son of God and Mary!”
Saw and plane, the tools of the carpenter.
The child who learns from him and his teacher who trusts him.
With such a father, one’s heart widens.
Martin J. Emge

How did the idea come about?

It developed over a longer period of time. The Year of St. Joseph, proclaimed by Pope Francis, provided the initial impetus to take a closer look at St. Joseph. The question arose as to whether St. Joseph could be elevated to the status of honorary member of the Schoenstatt Pilgrim Mother Campaign, since he accompanied Our Lady and her Child on numerous journeys.

After reading the chapter in the book “Ways of Hope” by François Xavier Cardinal Nguyên Van Thuân (Patris Publishing House): “My first love is Mary, the Immaculate Conception: …When I pray to Mary, I immediately think also of her Spouse, St. Joseph. This is how Mary and Jesus want it, since they themselves love St. Joseph very much and honor him especially” (p. 69), the idea became very concrete.

The Advent celebration for the participants of the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign was scheduled for December 8th, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Yes, if Mary and Jesus themselves love St. Joseph very much and honor him especially, then he fits especially well with us in the Campaign. Mary goes on pilgrimage with her Son in the picture of the Pilgrim Mother according to a monthly rotation to families, single people, to old people’s homes or kindergartens.

With the heart of a father and creative courage

After consulting with Diocesan Director Martin J. Emge and Sister M. Alena Engelhardt of the Pilgrims’ Center in Schoenstatt, nothing stood in the way of asking St. Joseph to be the patron of the Campaign.

A Father with a heart, who accompanies all pilgrimages, who leads us by the hand like his foster son Jesus, we would like to ask him to be our patron for the pilgrim circles and participants. At the same time, we ask him to bring more vitality to our pilgrim circles and to open many new doors for Mary and her Son.

In preparation for this beautiful act of making St. Joseph the patron of the pilgrim circles, everyone was invited to say a novena with prayers from the booklet: “With a Father’s Heart and Creative Courage,” which Dean Martin Emge had compiled according to the suggestions of Pope Francis’ letter for the Year of St. Joseph.

They came from all directions


The afternoon began with a Eucharistic celebration, which Monsignor Dr. Josef Zerndl (Scheßlitz) celebrated according to the feast of Mary. In his sermon he explained very vividly how Pope Pius IX arrived at the dogma of the Immaculate Conception by contemplating an image of Mary.

After the Holy Mass, the participants – about thirty pilgrims – went to the Shrine of Unity with their Pilgrim MTAs, invoking Saint Joseph. There Jesus, Mary and Joseph were greeted: “Our pilgrimage circle from … greets Mary with Jesus and Joseph!” At the same time, they held up the Pilgrim Mother. The pilgrim circles were represented from all four cardinal points such as Breitengüßbach, Kemmern, Birkach, Oberleiterbach, Ahorntal, Memmelsdorf, Roßdach, Hallstadt, Eckental, Stöckach and many other towns of our archdiocese.

First of all, St. Joseph was considered as a fellow worker with hands, heart, and feet.

For him, who is so strong, courageous, and quite dynamic, not standing, but taking a step powerfully, it would be easy to accompany the many ways of the Pilgrim Mother with her bearers (missionaries).

For St. Joseph to have a better idea of what awaits him as the patron saint of the pilgrim circles, expectations were mentioned in the form of petitions:

  • All those who receive the Pilgrim Mother ask to be accompanied on new paths.
  • Also, more liveliness in the circles and not to be only marginal in the parishes.
  • How can we bring the Pilgrim MTA to young families if we first must overcome shyness?
  • It is just as important for everyone to maintain such a lively faith in the Pilgrim Mother that we pilgrim circles have a contagious effect, that our enthusiasm for the faith is transmitted to others, and in this way new doors can open for Mary with her Son.

Monsignor Dr. Josef Zerndl: “Saint Joseph, please say yes!”

Dr. Josef Zerndl spoke the sacred act:

“Saint Joseph, I ask You on behalf of the pilgrim circles, be all ears for their great desire: please become, as a father with a wide listening heart, the patron saint of the pilgrim circles here in our Archdiocese of Bamberg.

Give the pilgrims Your fatherly protection. For the sake of the love that united You with the Blessed Mother, and for the sake of the fatherly love with which You loved Jesus, look kindly upon our pilgrim circles, and come to the aid of our problems with Your power. You have watched over the Holy Family with faithful care, now protect also the community of pilgrims. Protect all who walk with the Pilgrim Mother. Protect all who receive HER and her Son at home and take them under Your protection.

Give all pilgrims the courage to go new ways. Creative courage to realize innovative ideas and finally the confidence that Mary brings Jesus into the homes, so that everyday life there becomes a little brighter.

Saint Joseph, we entrust to You, our great heavenly Advocate, all pilgrims: the families, the single people, the people in the kindergartens and schools, to all to whom the Pilgrim Mother comes. Amen.”

Dr. Zerndl signed on the back of the pilgrim picture given to St. Joseph.

There is also the petition, “Saint Joseph, patron saint of the Campaign, pray for us! 8.12.22” In the end, all those present also signed.

The faithful expressed their gratitude with the following words:

“Saint Joseph, we thank you that you are now our patron saint of the pilgrims in the Archdiocese of Bamberg. We give you this picture of the Pilgrim Mother and we are already looking forward to the future together with you and the Holy Family. Thank you that we can rely on your care and count on your support. We entrust ourselves to you. We rely on your creative courage, which you want to give us. Accompany, protect us, Thou fellow companion in all our ways. Amen.”

“Jochen, I need this picture! I need Our Lady with her child!”

In the silence that followed, during which everyone could express their thanks, hopes, expectations and wishes to the newly appointed patron saint, there was a palpable sense of reverent emotion, a very intimate peace, an immense joy, and gratitude. What will Saint Joseph give us in return?

The silence ended with a testimony by Jochen Grober, who has been enthusiastically accompanying the Pilgrim Mother in Birkach and Medlitz since 1999. He told of his many experiences of how pilgrims opened when he brought Our Lady to them. How they describe their need, ask for a common prayer. People are attached to this image and have an intimate relationship with Our Lady. They say, “Jochen, I need this image! I need Our Lady with her Child!” He ended his testimony, “Often only prayer helps. So often I may feel that Saint Joseph is always there for me. Therefore, it is certain for me that Saint Joseph and the Mother of God are always one.”

“May St. Joseph now help!” is also the wish of our Diocesan Director Fr. Martin J. Emge.

Let us be surprised how our patron saint stands by all pilgrims and goes along.


Original: German. Translation: Maria Fischer

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