The Feast of St. Joseph and the St. Joseph Altar
Several of our apostolates in the North American District carry on the tradition of the St. Joseph’s Altar in honor of the Feast of St. Joseph.
Dating from the Middle Ages, this devotion arose in Sicily during a time of great famine. The weather for the island is often erratic, swinging between torrential rain and periods of drought. Such a drought fell upon Sicily and persisted to the point of famine. The failure of crops made the situation desperate, leaving farmers and families of the island the only thing they had left – Faith.
The intercession of Saint Joseph was besought, and he answered their prayers. More gentle rains began to fall on the island, filling wells and nourishing crops, ending the famine and drought.
The people of the island sought a method to thank Saint Joseph for his Heavenly favors, and it was decided to erect altars around statues of St. Joseph. There were placed gifts of the first fruits of the island – grains and breads, fruits and vegetables, and all manner of seafood and lamb. After prayers of thanksgiving were offered to St. Joseph, and blessed, the first fruits of the island’s labor were distributed to those less fortunate.
This practice became an annual tradition amongst Sicilians, and when they eventually immigrated to the United States, the tradition of the St. Joseph’s Altar and food for the poor immigrated with them. Enjoy pictures of the altars in Dallas and Sarasota.
Holy Family, our parish in Dayton, Ohio, commemorated the Feast by providing meals for the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
March 24, 2015