Veneration of the Holy Family was formally begun in the 17th century by Blessed Francois de Laval, the first bishop of Quebec. The Feast of the Holy Family was instituted by Pope Leo XIII in 1893 on the Sunday within the Octave of the Epiphany. In 1969 the feast was moved to the Sunday within the Octave of Christmas. The gospel of the feast, Luke 2:41-52, relates what is referred to as the Finding in the Temple or the Disputations, the usual names in art.
In December 2011 at a weekly audience, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the Holy Family. Here is a short excerpt:
"The house of Nazareth is a school of prayer where we learn to listen, to meditate, to penetrate the deepest meaning of the manifestation of the Son of God, drawing our example from Mary, Joseph and Jesus. The Holy Family is an icon of the domestic Church, which is called to pray together. The family is the first school of prayer where from their infancy, children learn to perceive God thanks to the teaching and example of their parents. An authentically Christian education cannot neglect the experience of prayer. If we do not learn to pray in the family, it will be difficult to fill this gap later. I would, then, like to invite people to rediscover the beauty of praying together as a family, following the school of the Holy Family of Nazareth."
Sr. Joanne Gonter, V.H.M.