“And He went down with them, and came to Nazareth: and was subject to them” (Gospel).
“Is it not fitting,” says Leo XIII, “to celebrate the royal birth of the Son of the supreme Father, of the house of David and the glorious names of that ancient line? Yet it is more consoling for us to call to memory the little house at Nazareth and the humble life lived there; thus celebrating the hidden life of our Lord. For there the divine Child received his training in Joseph’s humble trade; there hidden and sheltered, He grew up and showed Himself ready to share the toil of a carpenter’s life. “Let the moisture,” he seemed to say, “trickle over my limbs before they are drenched with the torrent of my blood, and the pain of this labor shall go to atone for the sins of men.” Close to the divine Child is His tender Mother; close to Joseph stands his devoted wife, happy to relieve their toil and suffering by her loving care: O Thou, who wast not free from toil and care and who hast known adversity, come to the aid of the unfortunate, crippled by poverty and struggling against the difficulties of life” (Hymn for Matins).
In this lowly dwelling at Nazareth, by practicing the domestic virtues of charity, obedience, mutual help and regard, Jesus, Mary and Joseph hallowed family life (Collect, Epistle and Gospel). There too they constantly found joy and peace in recollection and prayer in common. May the great Christian family practice here on earth the virtues of the Holy Family, so meriting a life in their blessed company in Heaven (Collect).
Benedict XV, being desirous of securing for souls the blessings flowing from meditation on the virtues of the Holy Family and from their imitation, extended this feast to the universal Church in 1921.