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Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.  Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ. (Mt. 1:16, 18-21, 21-24a)

I'm from New Orleans, where Mardi Gras and St. Joseph's Day are always celebrated with food, jazz, or a walk through the French Market. The spirit of New Orleans lifts our souls, so we welcome tourists from all over.

At Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, the International Shrine of St. Jude, I never knew who might sit next to me, such as Aaron Nieves, as we held hands to say "Our Father." Believe it or not, that's where my conversion took place among many Catholic friends many years ago. This impossible journey later led me to St. Joseph. A Josephite priest, Fr. Joseph Doyle, was very instrumental in my spiritual journey and St. Joseph.

I soon greatly loved St. Joseph, Jesus's foster father and Our Lady's spouse. He took me in as his child. As I walk this path of life, I know he's there by my side, just like he was there to protect Jesus and Mary.

New Orlean Catholics celebrate St. Joseph's Day with beautifully constructed layouts that are, sometimes, elaborate. The altar overflows with food: fish, pasta, pieces of bread in symbolic shapes, cakes, fruit, and vegetables. There is no meat because Joseph's Day always falls during Lent.

The St. Joseph's Altar tradition: The island of Sicily was going through a drought, and there was no rain to sustain the fruit and vegetable crops. The cattle ate fava beans as feed, and these beans were becoming the people's source of survival. The priest prayed and prayed and pleaded with St. Joseph, their patron saint, for rain. The nourishing rain began to fall from the heavens and blessed them abundantly. The people were so grateful that they prepared a table with all the foods from their harvest in thanksgiving to St. Joseph. The food was blessed and given to the less fortunate. The altar is a reminder that the more we give, the more will be given to us.

Luke 6:38: Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you. 

In 2017 I realized I missed this tradition so much that I approached my priest about setting up a St. Joseph Altar at Holy Family Catholic Church, and the answer was "Yes."

I've opened the eyes and hearts of many parishioners and searched deeply for the love St. Joseph has for each of us. He's the only saint with two feast days: St. Joseph's Day, March 19, and St. Joseph the Worker, May 1.

So many of our saints loved St. Joseph, and for future reading, Consecration to St. Joseph by Donald G. Calloway, MIC, is a wealth of information that can be shared with others, and we know we will never be alone because we have Jesus's father and Mother with us always. 


Celebrant: O, glorious Saint Joseph, we stand before this Altar with joyful and grateful hearts. We lovingly present to you the labor of our hands and the dedication of our hearts that have fashioned this Altar in your honor. We again place ourselves under your powerful protection Help us follow your example of complete trust and faith in Divine Providence.

Open our minds and hearts to love and serve the poor, the suffering, and those rejected or ignored by society. As a family, teach us to love and honor each member of our families with the love and reverence you had for Jesus and Mary. As a nation, inspire in us the will and the way to live in peace with all nations of the world, that in our day, we can experience the fulfillment of Jesus' prayer—"Peace be with you." Grant this through Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen

V. O, glorious Saint Joseph, through the love you bear to Jesus Christ and the glory of His name,

R. Hear our prayers and obtain our petitions.

Celebrant: Lord Jesus, bless this Altar, all this food, the candles, and all those who visit it. We ask this in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen


Remember, O most pure spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, my sweet protector, Saint Joseph, that no one ever had recourse to your protection or implored your aid without obtaining relief.  Confiding, therefore, in your goodness, I come before you and humbly supplicate you. O, despise not my petitions, Foster Father of our Redeemer, but graciously receive them. Amen

Author: LINDA HARRISON, Holy Family, 3401 Lower Roswell Road, Marietta GA.

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1 Comment


Thank you for sharing the story behind the St Joseph's Altar Tradition and the Blessing of the Altar prayer. It's wonderful to know that this beautiful tradition thrives within the Catholic community of New Orleans.

I can vividly remember my parents, praying for St Joseph and the Holy Family's intercessions during our family rosaries. I will share this information with parishioners of the various Catholic churches within my community. It would be wonderful to see St Joseph's feast day celebrated in this tradition on the West Coast!

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