But have you heard of St. Joseph’s cord?
The Miraculous History of the Cord
Jan van Helmont - Portrait of the Black Canon Augustinian Nuns in Antwerp
The beautiful devotion of St. Joseph's Cord began almost 400 years ago in the small town of Antwerp, Belgium. An Augustinian nun named Sr. Elizabeth was suffering from a mysterious and painful illness; doctors admitted that it would most likely lead to her death. Having a special devotion to St. Joseph, she asked that a cord be blessed in his honor. She wrapped this cord around her waist. A few days later, her pain disappeared while she was praying for St. Joseph’s intercession. Multiple doctors—including a Protestant doctor—accessed her case and proclaimed her cure to be miraculous.
Almost 200 years later, the miracle was publicized—particularly in Verona, Italy—and in March of 1842, this devotional cord was adopted by a hospital in Verona and distributed to its patients. On September 19, 1859, the devotion of St. Joseph’s cord was officially adopted; a blessing formula created; indulgences added by Pope Pius IX; and widespread private use permitted.
The White Cord of St Joseph is piously used not only as a remedy against physical ailments, but as a support in living the virtues of chastity and purity of heart.
Graces Associated with the Cord
There are five primary graces attached to the wearing of the cord and the pious recitation of the corresponding prayers:
- St. Joseph's special protection
- Purity of soul
- The grace of chastity
- Final perseverance
- Particular assistance at the hour of death
Using the Devotional
The following is recommended for this devotional:
The Cord of St. Joseph should be of thread or cotton, ending at one extremity in seven knots, indicative of the Seven Joys and Sorrows of St. Joseph. It is worn as a girdle for purity or chastity and humility, and around the shoulders for obedience. It ought to be blessed by a priest with the faculties for this blessing. Pius IX approved a special formula for the blessing of the cord of St. Joseph.
The daily commitments associated with the devotion are to pray seven Glory Be's along with a prayer to St. Joseph for Purity:
O GUARDIAN of Virgins and holy Father St. Joseph,
into whose faithful keeping were entrusted
Christ Jesus, Innocence Itself, and Mary, Virgin of virgins,
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 serve Jesus and Mary most chastely all the days of my life.
We are also encouraged to meditate on St. Joseph’s Seven Joys and Sorrows, praying an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be after each Joy and Sorrow.
Here are a few short, beautiful petitions found in the pamphlet that traditionally accompanies the cord:
St. Joseph, model of those who love the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pray for us.
St. Joseph, foster father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and the spouse of Mary, pray for us.
Grant O holy Joseph, that, ever under your protection, we may pass our lives without sin. Amen.