The 20th century saw the rise of Socialism and Communism – enemies of the Church and the Christian worker. Knowing full well the threat of these powers, a succession of Pontiffs saw fit to warn the faithful and to entrust them to the care of St. Joseph.


On July 25, 1920 Pope Benedict XV, known as the “Pope of Peace” during World War I, issued the moto proprio “Bonum Sane” in which he warned the faithful of Socialism and World Government, while also entrusting them to the care of St. Joseph:


We now see, with true sorrow, that society is now much more depraved and corrupt than before, and that the so-called "social question" has been aggravating to such an extent as to create the threat of irreparable ruin. … This World Government will no longer acknowledge the authority of the father over his children, or of the public power over the citizens, or of God over human society. All things will, if implemented, lead to terrible social convulsions, like those which are already happening … We, therefore, concerned most of all by the course of these events … remind those on Our side, who earn their bread by their work, to save them from Socialism, the sworn enemy of Christian principles, that with great solicitude We recommend them in particular to St. Joseph, to follow him as their guide and to receive the special honor of his heavenly patronage. 


Pope Pius XI, who succeeded Benedict XV, also saw the growing threat against the Church. In his 1937 encyclical “Divini Redemptoris” he decided to explicitly entrusted the cause against Communism to St. Joseph:

 

To hasten the advent of that "peace of Christ in the kingdom of Christ" so ardently desired by all, We entrust the vast campaign of the Church against world Communism under the standard of St. Joseph, Her mighty Protector. He belongs to the working-class, and he bore the burdens of poverty for himself and the Holy Family, whose tender and vigilant head he was. To him was entrusted the Divine Child when Herod loosed his assassins against Him. In a life of faithful performance of everyday duties, he left an example for all those who must gain their bread by the toil of   their hands. He won for himself the title of "The Just," serving thus as a living model of that Christian justice which should reign in social life. 


In 1955 the successor to Pius XI, Venerable Pope Pius XII, established the Feast Day of “St. Joseph the Worker” to be celebrated annually on May 1. This date was specifically chosen in order to counteract the predominantly Socialist and Communist holiday “International Workers’ Day,” also known as “May Day.” Pius XII encouraged laborers to look to St. Joseph as their model and to ask for his intercession in their work:


St. Joseph is the best protector to help you in your life, to penetrate the spirit of the Gospel. Indeed, from the Heart of the God-Man, Savior of the world, this spirit is infused in you and in all men, but it is certain that there was no worker’s spirit so perfectly and deeply penetrated as the putative father of Jesus, who lived with him in the closest intimacy and community of family and work. So, if you want to be close to Christ, I repeat to you “Ite ad Ioseph”: Go to Joseph! – Ven. Pius XII, Address to Italian Workers, 1 May 1955

 

The clang of the hammer deafens his ears; his eyes are fixed on what he is shaping. His care is to finish his work, and he keeps watch till he perfects it in detail… he maintains God’s ancient handiwork, and his concern is for exercise of his skill.

Sirach 38:28, 34

 

There is nothing better for man than to eat and drink and provide himself with good things by his labors. Even this, I realized, is from the hand of God. – Ecclesiastes 2:24