The Man Nearest to Christ


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By Francis L. Filas, S.J.

Saint Joseph, the “faithful and prudent servant whom the Lord has set over His household,” was declared patron of the Universal Church by Pope Pius IX in 1870. Yet devotion to the foster father of Jesus Christ has been a feature of the Christian life since the earliest days of the Church. In The Man Nearest to Christ, Francis L. Filas expertly surveys the nature and historic development of devotion to Saint Joseph, faithfully adhering to his principle that true devotion supposes a desire for historical veracity and a fidelity to reliable sources.

The highest rung of this ladder, on which God rests, is St. Joseph… But how does the Lord and God rest on him? As the wardrests on the guardian. Since He is born into the world without a father, He rests on St. Joseph so that Joseph is to the Child as the best of fathers… (Rupert of Deutz)

Weaving together the evidence of Scripture, patrology, theology, and history, Filas presents the life of Saint Joseph and corrects common errors about it; examines dev­otion to the saint from its beginnings to the Council of Trent; and concludes, spanning the next four centuries, with the declarations of Popes Pius IX, Leo XIII, Benedict XV, and Pius XI, which proclaimed “in glowing crescendo the worth and dignity and power and glory of Joseph, spouse of Mary, foster father of the Word Incarnate, and patron of the Universal Church…the model and guide for every class of modern society and the helper of each individual soul that confidently and devoutly calls on him.”


Francis L. Filas, S.J. (1915–1985) was an American Catholic priest of the Society of Jesus. Best known for his authoritative research of the Shroud of Turin and scholarship on St. Joseph, he served as professor of theology at Loyola University of Chicago from 1950 to 1985 and wrote seven books on the life of, and devotion to, St. Joseph, including Joseph Most Just, Joseph and Jesus, and the Manual of St. Joseph Prayers.

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Paperback: 978-1685952952

ISBN: 212pp.