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even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church'' Ignatius of Antioch, 1st c. A.D

St. Joseph's Cinctures (Cords)

St. Joseph in his workshop, by Gerrit Van Honthorst, 1620

Luke 12:34-35 "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Let your loins be girt and lamps burning in your hands."


The cincture, like the one a priest wears at Mass, is a sign of chastity, and has been since the Church's beginning -- and before. Old Testament priests wore cinctures, consecrated Virgins and religious wear cinctures, and the wearing of cinctures in honor of a particular Saint is ancient, first spoken of in the life of St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine, and carried on by St. Dominic, who wore a cincture in honor of St. Francis. Certain Confraternities and Archconfraternities (groups of faithful devoted to a religious cause) also wear cinctures as signs of their affiliation and chastity.

The Cincture, or Cord, of St. Joseph dates back to 1657, when an Augustinian nun in Antwerp, Belgium enjoyed a miraculous cure from a long and serious illness after beginning to wear a cincture in honor of St. Joseph. The devotion of wearing this cincture spread, and soon became associated with the Archconfraternity of St. Joseph, whose headquarters are at the Church of San Rocco in Rome. The American "branch" of this Archconfraternity, by decree of Pope Leo XIII in 1892, is at St. Joseph's Church in De Pere, Wisconsin, which is now staffed by the Norbertines. In order to gain the indulgences attached to the wearing of St. Joseph's Cord, talk to your priest.

Otherwise, and as is more common, one may wear the Cord simply in honor of St. Joseph and for the following graces:

  • St. Joseph's special protection
  • The grace of chastity
  • Final perseverance
  • St. Joseph's particular assistance at the hour of death

Young people, especially, would benefit from St. Joseph's Cincture! We need to be reminded of the importance of chastity, especially now, when sexual decadence is all around us.

The Cord itself is simply a white cord of wool or cotton, knotted in 7 places -- one knot for each of the 7 Sorrows of St. Joseph and their related Joys, they being:

  • The doubt of Saint Joseph (Matthew 1:19) and the Message of the Angel (Matthew 1:20)
  • The poverty of Jesus' birth (Luke 2:7) and the Birth itself (Luke 2:7)
  • The Circumcision (Luke 2:21) and the Holy Name of Jesus (Matthew 1:25)
  • The prophecy of Simeon that many would be lost (Luke 2:34) and his prophecy that many would rise (Luke 2:34)
  • The flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:14) and the Overthrow of idols (Isaias 19:1
  • The return from Egypt (Matthew 2:22) and Life with Mary and Jesus (Luke 2:39)
  • The loss of the Child Jesus (Luke 2:45) and Finding Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:46)

If your St. Joseph's Cord comes with only two knots, one at each end, then you should tie the other 5 into it. When you get your Cord, it must be blessed by a priest (see below), and then worn around the waist. One who wears the St. Joseph's Cord is to daily say a Gloria on each of the 7 knots, in honor of and while meditating on each of the 7 Sorrows of St. Joseph, and a prayer to St. Joseph for purity. These prayers are:


Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Latin Version:
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.


Prayer to St. Joseph for Purity

Guardian of virgins, and holy father Joseph, to whose faithful custody Christ 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 serve Jesus and Mary most chastely all the days of my life. Amen.

Latin version:
Virginum custos et pater, sancte Ioseph, cuius fideli custodiae ipsa Innocentia Christus Iesus et Virgo virginum Maria commissa fuit; te per hoc utrumque carissimum pignus Iesum et Mariam obsecro et obtestor, ut me, ab omni immunditia praeservatum, mente incontaminata, puro corde et casto corpore Iesu et Mariae semper facias castissime famulari. Amen.

Devotion to the 7 Sorrows and Joys of St. Joseph

Optionally, to increase one's devotion to the Blessed Spouse, one may meditate on the Seven Sorrows and Joys of St. Joseph with the following prayers:

O chaste Spouse of Mary most holy, glorious St. Joseph, great was the trouble and anguish of thy heart when thou wert minded to put away privately thine inviolate Spouse, yet thy joy was unspeakable when the surpassing mystery of the Incarnation was made known to thee by the Angel! By this sorrow and this joy, we beseech thee to comfort our souls, both now and in the sorrows of our final hour, with the joy of a good life and a holy death after the pattern of thine own, in the arms of Jesus and Mary. (Say one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be)

O most blessed Patriarch, glorious St. Joseph, who was chosen to be the foster father of the Word made flesh, thy sorrow at seeing the Child Jesus born in such poverty was suddenly changed into heavenly exultation when thou didst hear the angelic hymn and beheld the glories of that resplendent night. By this sorrow and this joy, we implore thee to obtain for us the grace to pass over from life's pathway to hear the angelic songs of praise, and to rejoice in the shining splendor of celestial glory. (Say one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be)

O glorious St. Joseph, thou faithfully obeyed the law of God, and thy heart was pierced at the sight of the Precious Blood that was shed by the Infant Savior during His Circumcision, but the Name of Jesus gave thee new life and filled thee with quiet joy. By this sorrow and this joy, obtain for us the grace to be freed from all sin during life, and to die rejoicing, with the Holy Name of Jesus in our hearts and on our lips. (Say one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be)

O most faithful Saint who shared the mysteries of our Redemption, glorious St. Joseph, the prophecy of Simeon regarding the sufferings of Jesus and Mary caused thee to shudder with mortal dread, but at the same time filled thee with a blessed joy for the salvation and glorious which, he foretold, would be attained by countless souls. By this sorrow and this joy, obtain for us that we may be among the number of those, who through merits of Jesus and the intercession of Mary the Virgin Mother, are predestined to a glorious resurrection. (Say one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be)

O most watchful Guardian of the Incarnate Son of God, glorious St. Joseph, what toil was thine in supporting and waiting upon the Son of the most high God, especially in the flight into Egypt! Yet at the same time, how thou didst rejoice to have always near you God Himself, and to see the idols of the Egyptians fall prostrate to the ground before Him. By this sorrow and this joy, obtain for us the grace of keeping ourselves in safety from the infernal tyrant, especially by flight from dangerous occasions; may every idol of earthly affection fall from our hearts; may we be wholly employed in serving Jesus and Mary, and for them alone may we live and happily die. (Say one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be)

O glorious St. Joseph, an angel on earth, thou didst marvel to see the King of Heaven obedient to thy commands, but thy consolation in bringing Jesus out of the land of Egypt was troubled by the fear of Archelaus; nevertheless, being assured by the Angel, thou dwelt in gladness at Nazareth with Jesus and Mary. By this sorrow and this joy, obtain for us that our hearts may be delivered from harmful fears, so that we may rejoice in peace of conscience and may live in safety with Jesus and Mary and may, like thee, die in their company. (Say one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be)

O glorious St. Joseph, pattern of all holiness, when thou didst lose, through no fault of thine own, the Child Jesus, thou sought Him sorrowing for the space of three days, until with great joy, thou didst find Him again in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors. By this sorrow and this joy, we supplicate thee, with our hearts upon our lips, to keep us from ever having the misfortune to lose Jesus through mortal sin; but if this supreme misfortune should befall us, grant that we may seek Him with unceasing sorrow until we find Him again, ready to show us His great mercy, especially at the hour of death; so that we may pass over to enjoy His presence in Heaven; and there in company with thee, may we sing the praises of His Divine mercy forever. (Say one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be)

Antiphon: And Jesus Himself was beginning about the age of thirty, being (as it was supposed) the Son of Joseph.

V: Pray for us, O holy Joseph,

R: That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let Us Pray.

O God, Who in Thine ineffable Providence didst vouchsafe to choose Blessed Joseph to be the spouse of Thy most holy Mother, grant we beseech Thee, that he whom we venerate as our protector on earth may be our intercessor in Heaven. Who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Priest's Blessing of a Cincture

The priest, vested in surplice and white stole, says:

V: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R: Who made heaven and earth.
V: The Lord be with you.
R: May He also be with you.
V: Let us pray.

Lord Jesus Christ, who inculcated the counsel and love of virginity, and gave the precept of chastity, we appeal to Thy kindness, asking that Thou bless and hallow this cincture as a token of purity. Let all who gird themselves with it as a safeguard of chastity be enabled, by the prayers of Saint Joseph, spouse of Thy holy Mother, to practice that continence which is so pleasing to Thee, and to live in obedience to Thy commandments. May they also obtain pardon of their sins, health in mind and body, and flnally attain everlasting life. We ask this of Thee who lives and reigns with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, forever and ever.
R: Amen.
V: Let us pray.

Almighty and everlasting God, grant, we pray, that those who revere the inviolate virginity of the most pure Virgin Mary and of Saint Joseph, her spouse, may by their prayers be pure in mind and body; through Christ our Lord.
R: Amen

Let us pray.

Almighty and everlasting God, who committed the boy Jesus and the most pure Mary, ever a Virgin, to the care of the chaste man Saint Joseph, we humbly entreat Thee that those who are girded with this cincture in honour of Saint Joseph and under his patronage may, by Thy help and his prayers, persevere in holy chastity for all time; through Christ our Lord.
R: Amen.

Let us pray.

God, the lover and restorer of innocence, we pray that Thy faithful who are to wear this cincture may, by the prayers of Saint Joseph, spouse of Thy holy Mother, have their loins girded and hold burning lamps in their hands, and thus be likened to men who wait for their Lord when He shall return for a wedding, that when He comes and knocks they may open to Him, and be found worthy of being taken into everlasting joys; through Thee who lives and reigns forever and ever.
R: Amen

Then the priest puts incense into the censer, sprinkles the cincture with holy water, and says:

Sprinkle me with hyssop, Lord, and I shall be clean of sin. Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

After this he incenses the cincture, and continues:

V: Save Thy servants.
R: Who trust in Thee, my God.
V: Lord, send them aid from Thy holy place.
R: And watch over them from Sion.
V: Lord, heed my prayer.
R: And let my cry be heard by Thee.
V: The Lord be with you.
R: May He also be with you.

Let us pray.

O God of mercy, God of goodness, Thou art pleased with all good things, and without whom no good work is begun, no good work is finished; kindly hear our prayers, and defend Thy faithful, who are to wear this blessed cincture in honour of Saint Joseph and under his protection, from the snares of this world and all its lusts. Help them to persist in their holy resolution and to obtain pardon of their sins, and thus merit to be numbered amongst Thy elect; through Christ our Lord.
R: Amen.

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