Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Sleeping St. Joseph

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A few years ago while visiting the Philippines, Pope Francis wove his love for St. Joseph into an address on prayer and family.  Specifically, he spoke about a statue he has on his desk of the Sleeping St. Joseph.  From the Gospels, we know that St. Joseph listened to God in his dreams and then rose to act on His will.  Pope Francis shared with his audience that he asks St. Joseph to pray for his intentions by writing them down and slipping the paper under the statue of St. Joseph.

This sweet devotion has been spreading slowly across the world.  A dear friend was the first to introduce it to me, and I just love this new connection with one of my very favorite Saints.  How comforting to think of St. Joseph caring for the Church, for us and our concerns, while resting in God.

You can read the full text of Pope Francis' address here.  (It is super accessible- only a couple of pages long with a theme of family and prayer, making it very readable for older kids.)  There are several awesome, wisdom packed quotes from his talk that I think would be great to share with kids and adults alike:
· “I have a great love for St. Joseph, because he is a man of silence and strength.  On my table I have an image of St. Joseph sleeping.  Even when he is asleep, he is taking care of the Church!”
· “Joseph’s rest revealed God’s will to him.  In this moment of rest in the Lord, as we pause from our many daily obligations and activities, God is also speaking to us.”
· “But like St. Joseph, once we have heard God’s voice, we must rise from our slumber; we must get up and act.”


The Solemnity of St. Joseph is coming up (observed on March 20th this year) and I am one of the teachers that helps plan the St. Joseph Day celebrations for our school, which is under the patronage of St. Joseph.  You can see my other ideas for celebrating St. Joseph's Solemnity in this post.  For my students, I might add this adorable St. Joseph figurine and this prayer book to our Faith Corner. We will enjoy our school's tradition of  sharing St. Joseph Day Bread, we'll read my favorite St. Joseph book and the beautiful Joseph page of this book, and... we'll do some Sleeping St. Joseph activities.  This year, our staff decided to introduce the kids to a new way to connect with St. Joseph by getting our own Sleeping St. Joseph statue.  We are so excited to share him with the students on his feast day during an all school assembly and blessing.

Sleeping St. Joseph in various picture books.
Our new Sleeping St. Joseph statue was purchased by my principal, but you can find some similar options like this one or this one.  Our statue will have a home on a shelf outside the school office.  He will rest on a box with an opening for students and families to leave their prayer requests.  I made a sign and a stack of prayer cards to leave with the statue as well.

Even if you don't own a Sleeping St. Joseph statue, you still can use his image and story to help kids learn about St. Joseph's prayer and action, strength and silence.  Here's an outline of my suggestions for leading children to a devotion to St. Joseph (all of these printables are at the bottom of the post).
· Color the Sleeping St. Joseph coloring page and share prayer requests for St. Joseph.  Talk about how St. Joseph protected and provided for the Holy Family, and how he protects and provides for the Church.
· Color, fold, and tape the Sleeping St. Joseph statue to create a prayer pillow.  Slide prayer requests inside the pillow.  Another variation is to fold the statue like table tent so it stands up.  Prayer requests can still be added inside.
· Read Matthew 1:18-25, discussing how St. Joseph rested in God, listened to Him, and then acted on His instructions.
· Color one of the Sleeping St. Joseph pages or Pope Francis quote pages.  Discuss Pope Francis’ wisdom about St. Joseph and his role for us and the Church.
· Use the Sleeping St. Joseph booklet to talk about Pope Francis’ speech and devotion to St. Joseph with the selected quote and discussion questions.  Write down prayer requests for St. Joseph.
· Read the stories of St. Joseph (Matthew 1:18-25 and 2:13-14) and Joseph, son of Jacob (Genesis 37, 40, and 41).  Compare how God used dreams in their lives and how they responded.
· Read the full text of Pope Francis’ speech and discuss his teaching on St. Joseph, prayer, and the family.  Identify the virtues of St. Joseph and how we can emulate him.

Your kids can make their own Sleeping St. Joseph with a place to keep their prayers.  Using the same printable, I have two suggestions.  We'll call one the prayer pillow (pictured above) and one the pop up statue.

First, color St. Joseph:

Then fold the top and bottom sections back on the dotted lines.  They will overlap.  Tape the length of the paper.  I used colorful masking tape so that you can see it, but scotch tape will work just fine.

Next tape the end of the prayer pillow closed near St. Joseph's feet:

Leave the end near his head open, and slide your prayer requests inside for him to rest on and pray for:

A slightly different variation creates a pop up statue.  Color St. Joseph, fold back the top and bottom of the page on the dotted lines, but instead of overlapping the flaps before taping, line them up.  Tape, and you have created a tri-fold that will stand on its own. Prayer requests can still be slipped inside the pop-up St. Joseph Statue.  He could sit on a shelf or desk, but also could be folded flat to add to a notebook or lapbook project.

I have a ton of different printables linked below.  I was aiming for a variety that might help meet the needs of different ages and classrooms.  I hope that something in the collection catches your eye!

Click here for the teacher guide with a summary of the devotion and a list of ideas for varying age levels- perfect to give as an overview to a group of teachers or catechists:

 Click here for prayer cards with a quote from Pope Francis and a prayer for the Sleeping St. Joseph:

Click here for a printable of the plain Sleeping St. Joseph to be used to make the prayer pillow or stand up statue:

 Click here for the same printable, but with "Sleeping St. Joseph, Pray for Us" included:

Click here for a Sleeping St. Joseph coloring page with a chunk of St. Joseph's story from the Gospel of Matthew:

Sleeping St. Joseph, Pray for Us cursive coloring page:

Click here for the Sleeping St. Joseph Devotion Booklet with discussion questions, room for prayer intentions, and Pope Francis quotes:

Sleeping St. Joseph Devotion sign for your own statue and display:

Click here for the Pope Francis St. Joseph quote coloring page:

Have you heard of the Sleeping St. Joseph Devotion?  Is it something you would like to add to your home or classroom?


  1. I ran across this statue lately and dubbed him Patron of Parents of a Newborn. What a sweet image!

  2. Thanks for this wonderful resource!

  3. I'm pulling together things for our parish "summer school" - I do the preschoolers while the School Sisters of Christ the King teach the grade school & middle school kids. I'm so excited to share this with the littles!

  4. Hi Katie! I love your work! I am posting your coloring pages to my Google Classroom while students are learning from home. Thanks so much for having these resources for us!

  5. You did a great job putting this together! I love this devotion.

  6. Thank you for these resources, I'm looking forward to my class making their own Sleeping St Joseph.

  7. Do we just keep the written petitions?

    1. If they are the small individual St. Josephs, the students can keep them in their own journals or Bibles. If it is the box with the petitions added my many people, I usually take the box home and burn the intentions without looking at them, asking God to answer their prayers.

  8. Katie, I'm a Catholic educator and I've used your materials for YEARS! Thank YOU for producing such beautiful, insightful projects for our Catholic kiddos. It's amazing that you make your items free and accessible for all of us! You are so talented and such a blessing. Thank you for sharing the gifts God has given you:)

    1. You are so super welcome, Eileen! Thank you for your nice message!