|Feasts & Traditions||Saint Joseph's Table||Saint Joseph's Altar|
|Burying Saint Joseph||History||Patronage & Symbols|
Saint Joseph, a man with a common touch. Quiet, giving, on the verge of mystery. He was left with dreams and the work of his hands. Displaced, a common worker, no name but carpenter this Joseph. Despite his humble work and means, Joseph came from a royal lineage, descended from David, the greatest king of Israel. We know he was a compassionate, caring man. The just man was simply, joyfully, wholeheartedly obedient to God - in marrying Mary, in naming Jesus, in shepherding the precious pair to Egypt, in bringing them to Nazareth, in the undetermined number of years of quiet faith and courage. He was chosen by the eternal Father as the trustworthy guardian and protector of his greatest treasures, namely, his divine Son and Mary, Joseph's wife. He carried out this vocation with complete fidelity until at last God called him, saying: 'Good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord".
Two feast days are celebrated for Joseph:
March 19 for Joseph the Husband of Mary and May 1 for Joseph the Worker.
There is much we wish we could know about Joseph - where and when he was born, how he spent his days, when and how he died. But Scripture has left us with the most important knowledge: who he was - "a righteous man" (Matthew 1:18)
Feast & Traditions
The principal feast day of Saint Joseph is March 19, Saint Joseph's Day (for Joseph the Husband of Mary). Among Biblical saints, the veneration of Saint Joseph came very late to the Catholic Church. Pope Pius IX declared him patron of the universal Church, and Pope John XXIII added his name to the Mass canon. Some groups of Traditional Catholics reject this addition, but most use the 1962 missal, which includes this change. The Church also celebrates a feast day on May 1 for Joseph the Worker.
Saint Joseph's Day always falls during Lent, and Saint Joseph's Day altars and feasts have no meat. However, since the feast day is classed as a solemnity, the requirement of abstinence from meat is technically abrogated, according to Canon Law, even if it falls on a Friday. If the feast day falls on a Sunday other than Palm Sunday, it is observed on the next available day, usually Monday, March 20, unless another solemnity falls on that day. Since 2008, if St Joseph's Day falls during Holy Week, it is moved to closest possible day before 19 March, usually the Saturday before Holy Week. This text has been taken from www.cute-calendar.com
In Spain, the day is a version of Father's Day. In some parts of Spain it is celebrated as Falles. In Sicily and many Italian American communities thanks are given to Saint Joseph ("San Giuseppe" in Italian) for preventing a famine in Sicily during the Middle Ages. The fava bean was the crop which saved the population from starvation, and is a traditional part of St. Joseph's Day altars and traditions. Giving food to the needy is a Saint Joseph's Day custom. In New Orleans, Louisiana, in addition to the above traditions, some groups of Mardi Gras Indians stage their last procession of the season, after which their costumes will be dismantled. At Mission San Juan Capistrano in San Juan Capistrano, California, a festival celebrates the return of migratory swallows.
Saint Joseph's Table
Throughout the Catholic Church, Saint Joseph has always been regarded as the family protector. Several centuries ago, a severe famine in Sicily caused considerable suffering and starvation. The peasant farmers turned in prayer to Saint Joseph for help. The famine soon ended, and in gratitude, the farmers honored Saint Joseph by filling an altar with their most prized possession-food.
In America, the custom of the Saint Joseph's Table has become like a giant pot luck dinner. Because Saint Joseph's Feast falls during the Lenten season, in pre-Vatican II times the foods at the celebration consisted of traditional meatless dishes such as fruit and vegetables, pasta, fish and varieties for bread and pastries (all dishes are welcome at our feast). Children are an important part of this celebration. It's customary to have three children represent the Holy Family. The priest blesses the food, the "Holy Family" is served first, and then everyone enjoys the feast. A Saint Joseph's Table has been a tradition for many years.
History of the Saint Joseph Altar
The St. Joseph Altar is Sicilian in origin. During a terrible famine, the people of Sicily pleaded to St. Joseph, their patron saint, for relief. St. Joseph answered their prayers, and the famine ended. In gratitude, they prepared a table with foods they had harvested. After paying homage to St. Joseph, they distributed the food to the less fortunate.
The Altar is set up in three tiers, representing the Holy Trinity. A statue of St. Joseph is placed on the top tier, usually surrounded by flowers, greenery and fruit. No meat is prepared for the Altar. This is probably because St. Joseph's Feast falls in the Lenten Season and also because meat was a rarity to the Sicilian peasants. Breads, cakes and cookies, baked in symbolic Christian shapes, are prepared for the Altar. Pastries in the shapes of monstrances, chalices, crosses, doves, lambs, fish, bibles, hearts, wreaths and palms adorn the tiers of the Altar. Symbols of St. Joseph - such as lilies, staffs, sandals, ladders, saws, hammers and nails - are also used. There is symbolism in many of the items on the Altar. Bread crumbs represent the sawdust of St. Joseph the Carpenter. Twelve whole fish represent the apostles. Wine is symbolic of the Miracle at Cana. The Altar is a medium of petition and thanksgiving. Petitions of the faithful are written on pieces of paper and placed in baskets on the Altar. Photos of deceased relatives & friends may decorate the Altar as well.
The Goodie Bag
Visitors to St. Joseph Altars are given small paper bags containing a few blessed items from the Altar. The bags usually contain a holy card and a small medal. Various cookies or small breads may also be in the bag. The most interesting item found in the goodie bag is the fava bean. In Sicily, the fava was fodder for cattle. During a great famine the people resorted to eating them to survive. They were considered lucky to have favas to eat, hence the fava bean is also known as a "lucky bean." Some believe that the pantry that contains a fava bean will never be bare. The fava, or lucky bean, serves as a token of the Altar - a reminder of God's provisions through the intercession of St. Joseph.
**Taken from the Virtual St. Joseph Altar (http://www.thankevann.com/stjoseph)
Burying Saint Joseph to Sell Your Home
The tradition has been traced to Saint Teresa of Avila who prayed that Saint Joseph would intercede to obtain land for Christian converts, and encouraged her Discalced Carmelite nuns to bury Saint Joseph medals as a symbol of devotion, consecrating the ground in Joseph's name. Remember, also, that Joseph was a man who knew about moving on a moment's notice (e.g., the flight to Egypt), and providing for a home for his family. He also knows what it's like to have housing trouble (remember the manger? and being turned away from the inns?), and so is likely to be sympathetic to people with trouble getting or leaving a home.
Several descriptions of the method, and even over-priced "kits" that show you how to do it are known. Each has a slightly different recipe. The following is a distillation of the descriptions, emphasizing the common factors.
People today bury statues, usually small, inexpensive ones, instead of medals. The size or cost of the statue doesn't matter, and has no relation to the size or cost of the property for sale.
Bury the statue upside down in the yard of the property you are trying to sell. I've seen a couple of versions with it upright, but upside down is by far the most common.
The location for the burial varies, but the most common is in the front of the property, facing the house. Some favor a particular corner, and many recommend putting it next to the "For Sale" sign.
During the burial ceremony, recite a short heartfelt prayer requesting Joseph's intercession to sell your house. An example prayer would be:
Joseph of Nazareth, I beseech thee
to intercede on my behalf to help me
find a worthy buyer for my home.
I ask this in the holy name of Christ.
This is the most important part: pray. Pray for Saint Joe to intervene for you. You can find some written prayers for this part (some of which seem to threaten Joseph if he doesn't get to work!), but prayer from the heart, prayer that discusses your personal situation, is much, much better.
While some traditions say you should leave the statue in the ground after the sale, others say that once the house is sold, you dig up the statue and take it with you to the new home. The practice is very common in Italy. Once the house is sold, Joseph is "rewarded" by being dug up, set aright and set in a place of honor in the family's new home.
Saint Joseph, also referred to as Joseph the Betrothed and as Joseph of Nazareth, was the foster-father of Jesus, according to the New Testament (Matthew 1:16; Luke 3:23). Not much is known of Joseph except that he was "of the House of David" and lived in the town of Nazareth. His date of death is unknown, though he was still living when Jesus was 12 years old. He is the patron saint of workers and has several feast days.
He was betrothed to Mary at the time that Mary conceived Jesus. Luke says that he lived at Nazareth in Galilee (Luke 2:4); however, according to Matthew, it was only after the return from Egypt that he settled in Nazareth (Matthew 2:23). He is called a "just man." He was by trade a carpenter (Matthew 13:55). He is last mentioned in connection with the journey to Jerusalem, when Jesus was twelve years old. It is probable that Joseph died before Jesus entered on his public ministry because only Mary was present at the marriage feast in Cana of Galilee, and he is not described at the crucifixion along with Mary (John 19:25). That Jesus commended Mary to the care of John the Evangelist while he was hanging on the cross has been interpreted to also suggest that Joseph had died by that time, and that Joseph and Mary did not have any other children who might care for Mary.
Jesus is described as being the brother of James, Joses, Jude, and Simon, and several sisters (Mark 6:3; Matthew 13:55). A tradition at least as early as the second century, still adopted by Eastern Orthodoxy, explains that these "brothers and sisters" were from Joseph's marriage to an unnamed woman, before Joseph married Mary and so making them stepbrothers and stepsisters. Roman Catholicism has a tradition that these were cousins of Jesus, and that Joseph was celibate.
Patronage & Symbols
In several forms of Christianity, a patron saint has special affinity for a trade or group. Patron saints can also be associated with geographical areas. Joseph is the patron saint of various things and places (refer to list below). Pope Pius IX proclaimed him the patron of the Universal Church on December 8, 1870.
|bursars||diocese of Baton Rouge, Louisiana|
|carpenters||diocese of Biloxi, Mississippi|
|confectioners||diocese of Buffalo, New York|
|emigrants||diocese of Cheyenne, Wyoming|
|expectant mothers||Croatian people (in 1687 by decree of the Croatian parliament)|
|happy death||diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin|
|holy death||archdiocese of Louisville, Kentucky|
|house hunters||diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire|
|interior souls||diocese of Nashville, Tennessee|
|married people||New World|
|Oblates of Saint Joseph||Peru|
|people in doubt||diocese of San Jose, California|
|people who fight Communism||Sicily|
|pioneers||diocese of Sioux Falls, South Dakota|
|pregnant women||Styria, Austria|
|protection of the Church||Turin Italy|
|social justice||Tyrol, Austria|
|unborn children||Viet Nam|
|Universal Church||diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia|
A symbol can also be a more or less conventional image (i.e. an icon), or a detail of an image, or even a pattern or color: for example, the olive branch in heraldry represents peace, the halo is a conventional symbol of sainthood in Christian imagery and tartans are symbols of Scottish clans. The imagery of the Christian church has various symbols associated with Saint Joseph.
|chalice||old man holding a lily and a carpenter's tool such as a square|
|cross||old man holding the infant Jesus|