March 19 is the feast of St. Joseph. Italian Americans in Louisiana construct elaborate food-covered altars in tribute to St. Joseph, upholding a tradition that reaches back to the Middle Ages, when intercession from St. Joseph delivered Sicily from a famine. Cakes, fig cookies, spaghetti, fish, fruit, flowers, candles: the altars are a riot of color and texture. Churches often host altars, but the most interesting ones are in private homes, often constructed in tribute to answered prayers, or by those seeking intercession from the saint.
WWL Channel 4 has a long list of altars….go to see one or three. In this economy, we all need a lucky fava bean in our wallets! (A blessed, dried fava is given to altar visitors as part of a goodie bag including prayer cards, cookies, and other small favors; it is supposed to stave off poverty if carried close to your money.) Or, if you can’t get to an altar in person, check out this Virtual St. Joseph’s altar. This year’s virtual altar website includes print-cut-and-color images so you can create your own mini-altar….