It is my happy privilege to announce that the 2015 Virtual St. Joseph Altar is now open. It is an online version of the many St. Joseph Altars that are erected by Italians both in Italia as well as the USA & elsewhere.
The tradition of the altars goes back to the Middle Ages. At the time, Sicilia was experiencing a very severe drought & thus in the midst of a severe famine. So the people of Sicilia prayed to their padrone, San Giuseppe for help. The rains came, putting an end to the famine.
The thank San Giuseppe, they built an altar & the people brought food from the harvest. This food was distributed to the poor. As time went on the devotion spread. The altars grew in size & certain traditions about the shape & way it was built arose. Also certain foods became a part of the tradition as well.
The altar has 3 tiers, in honor of the Trinity. A statue or image of San Giuseppe is placed on the top tier. The various foods brought as an offering are placed on the other two. Bread crumbs are sprinkled on the altar as a symbol of the sawdust in San Giuseppe's workshop. The fava bean is also present. Usually grown as fodder for the cattle, during the famine it was the only food available, so it serves as a reminder of the suffering San Giuseppe relieved them off.
Breads & pastries are baked into special shapes. These include that of a monstrance to honor the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Other shapes include a dove to symbolize the Holy Spirit, chalice, wreath (crown of thorns) & palms. Others are shaped like a ladder, nails, a hammer, a saw, staff & lilies. These are traditional symbols of San Giuseppe.
A huge variety of dishes, meatless of course since it is Lent, are also placed on the altar. There is usually a bottle or 2 of wine to symbolize the miracle at Cana. There are also flowers, candles & some citrus fruit.
Visitors to the altar are given a goody bag. The bag includes a San Giuseppe holy card & medal as well as a fava bean & a few of the cookies or pastries on the altar.
San Giuseppe is the Patron of the Universal Church. He is also known as the Guardian of the Redeemer & terror of demons. In this day & age when human life, especially that of the unborn is under attack, enemies are trying to destroy the Catholic Church from within as well as without & purity seems to be a thing of the past, San Giuseppe's aid & protection is needed more than ever.
So please visit the altar, make a virtual offering, leave your prayer requests & ask San Giuseppe's intercession for your beloved departed. & don't forget to pick up your virtual goody bag.
VIVA SAN GIUSEPPE!
Labels: St. Joseph (San Giuseppe)