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The Holy Family: Saint Mary, Saint Joseph, Jesus

The Holy Family: Saint Mary, Saint Joseph, Jesus

The Holy Family of Nazareth has been celebrated by the Catholic Church since 1893. The liturgical feast is fixed in the month of December, the Sunday following the feast of Christmas.

Composed of Jesus, the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, the Holy Family has always been a model of holiness for families! It is venerated and prayed to in a very special way in Cotignac. The worship of Saint Joseph, named patron saint of families, is also very fervent!


Discover everything about the feast of the Holy Family: its origins, the liturgy of the celebration, the devotion to the Holy Family! Pray to the Holy Family thanks to the beautiful communities of prayer that Hozana offers you!

Since when do we celebrate the Holy Family?

Who makes up the Holy Family? 

The Holy Family refers to the family formed by the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph and Jesus Christ. It is said to be "holy" because, beyond the holiness of each of its members, it is above all the community of love where Christ was born, raised and educated. The Church transmits to us that this earthly family is the reflection of the Holy Trinity.


In the Gospels, we find relatively few references to the Holy Family, the childhood of Jesus being very little mentioned. The Holy Family is cited in a few passages, the most important of which is that of the birth of Christ: “So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.” (Luke 2:16).

Origin of the devotion to the Holy Family

The devotion to the Holy Family was born in the 17th century thanks to François de Laval—the first bishop of Quebec—who founded the brotherhood of the Holy Family. He wished to spread it to make them an example of holiness: "We have not felt able to choose a more effective means for the salvation and sanctification of all kinds of people, than to impress upon them vividly in the heart a true love and a special devotion both towards the most holy and most sacred Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph" (Decree establishing the Brotherhood of the Holy Family, 1665).


As a result, their worship spread under the pontificate of Pope Leo XIII. In 1893, faced with the growing fervor of the faithful, he decreed the celebration of a feast of the Holy Family, and endowed it with a specific office.


In 1921, after the liturgical reform, Pope Pius XI extended the feast to the entire universal Church. In 1969, after the Second Vatican Council, the Church fixed a new date of celebration: the Sunday following the feast of Christmas.


Today, the devotion to the Holy Family is very widespread: Pope Francis invites us to take it as an example in his exhortation Amoris Laetitia: "Holy Family of Nazareth, also make our families a place of communion and a cenacle of prayer, authentic schools of the Gospel and small domestic churches."

How is the feast of the Holy Family celebrated?

When do we celebrate the Holy Family?

The Holy Family is celebrated during the octave of the birth of Christ, between two great feasts of the Catholic liturgical calendar. It takes place between the feast of Christmas, December 25, and the feast of Mary, Mother of God, January 1.


Formerly celebrated on the Sunday following the Epiphany, the Holy Family is today obligatorily celebrated in the month of December: if Christmas falls on a Sunday, it will be celebrated on December 30.

Liturgy of the Celebration

The feast of the Holy Family leads us to read and meditate, according to the liturgical year in force, three texts that refer to events experienced by the family of Nazareth:

  • The flight to Egypt, after the warning Joseph received in a dream: “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you,” (Matthew 2:13).
  • the Presentation of the Jesus at the Temple: “When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.” (Luke 2:22).
  • The Recovery of Jesus in the Temple: “After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, [...]”. (Luke 2:46)

Devotion to the Holy Family

The Holy Family, a model of virtue for families!

The Holy Family is a true model of sanctification for Christian families. Through the contemplation of Mary, Joseph and the child Jesus, we have a very concrete example of the roles and attitudes of each of the members of the family, and the love that is felt there.


By reading the Gospels, we observe that Saint Joseph lived his role as a father by ensuring the protection of the family and material well-being; the Virgin Mary, more turned towards the spiritual life and keeping "faithfully all these things in her heart" (Luke 2:51) is the guardian of the home. As for Jesus, the Gospels tell us that he “was obedient to them... and Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:51-52).


To venerate the Holy Family is to learn from their holiness and to discover "what the family is, its communion of love, its austere and simple beauty, its sacred and inviolable character." (Paul VI).

The Holy Family, venerated in Cotignac

The Holy Family is especially venerated in the south of France, in Cotignac, in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Graces. It is indeed a place of apparition of the Virgin and Child, as well as of Saint Joseph.


Today, Cotignac is a place of worship where families fervently go to ask for grace: to receive the gift of motherhood, to entrust their family to the protection of the Holy Family, etc.

Saint Joseph, patron saint of families

Saint Joseph, as head of the Holy Family and adoptive father of Jesus, is the patron saint of families. He is the model par excellence of fathers of families: it is he who ensures the protection of Mary and Jesus, who provides for their needs while filling them with his paternal tenderness.


The devotion to Saint Joseph, patron saint of families, is very great! Many fathers pray to him in order to rely on his righteousness of spirit, his accuracy and his wisdom.



Prayers to the Holy Family

“Holy Family of Nazareth, we entrust ourselves to you, because God has chosen to come to a family, and by a family, in order to save the world and to show him his love. 

Joseph, you are the model of fathers, attentive and gentle, strong and protective. Mary, light and joy in the house, you are the model of mothers who love and who console. Child Jesus, you are the model of obedience and love for parents.

Make our family more and more like you. Keep us in peace and prayer. Keep us from arguments, jealousy and impatience. Keep us in the will of God and in the desire to give ourselves to others. Keep us in harmony and charity, and take care of all our material and spiritual needs.

Holy Family of Nazareth, little Trinity on earth, Jesus God on earth, Mary bride of the Spirit, Joseph shadow of the Father, make us like you. Little Trinity on earth, Joseph dying of love for Mary, Mary dying of love for Jesus, Jesus dying of love for the world, make us like you.


Invocation: Holy Family of Nazareth, pray for us! (3 times)”

Pray to the Holy Family with Hozana

By choosing to incarnate within a family, God reveals to us how dear families are to his heart! The Holy Family, a community where Christ grew up, is a model of holiness for all the families of the world!

Let yourself be touched by this community of love that is the Holy Family in order to grow in holiness day after day. Entrust your family as well as the families of the world to their special protection!


  • Pray to the Holy Family during a retreat to ask for their protection for your own family.
  • Entrust the families of the world, and especially the most deprived, by following this novena to Saint Joseph, patron saint of families!

Join us for 9 days of written and audio prayers to Saint Joseph the Worker with Father Joseph Evans!

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