St. Joseph Altar being held in Erath
ERATH - Fr. Bill J. Melancon would like to welcome everyone to the St. Joseph Altar being held at Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church in Erath.
It will be held in the Pope John Paul II Parish Hall on Wednesday from 7 a.m to 7 p.m.
History of Altar
The St. Joseph Altar started with a drought in Sicily, Italy. There had been no rain to nourish the crops. The farmers walked through their barren fields. The only crop that thrived was the fava bean. It saved many from starvation. This is why it is now commonly called “the lucky bean.” Legend explains that if you carry a fava been in your pocket or purse, you will never be without money or food.
The situation was critical in Sicily. The Sicilians prayed to St. Joseph, their patron saint, for relief from the terrible famine that gripped their land.
Finally, it began to rain sending down the life-giving water. The people rejoiced. Later, to show their gratitude, they prepared a table with the foods they had harvested. After paying honor to St. Joseph, they distributed the food to the less fortunate.
Today the ultimate purpose of the altar is about tradition and generosity. The altar is constructed in the shape of the cross with three levels honoring the Holy Trinity. St. Joseph stands at the center of the highest tier surrounded by flowers. The colors of the Italian flag (red, white, & green) are displayed.
The main attraction on the altar is the food. Breads are baked in the shapes of carpentry tools such as ladders, saws, and hammers. Breadcrumbs represent the sawdust of the carpenter. There is no meat served because it was forbidden in Sicily for the observance of Lent.
Meatless spaghetti will be served all day on March 19 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. or until food runs out. All the supplies and food for the altar are donated by local individuals to share their blessings with those in need. The altar must not incur any expense nor any personal financial gain.
After the altar is dismantled, all food that remains (breads, cookies, & cakes) will be given to charity. Every item on the altar is blessed – food, candles, medals, holy cards, and fava beans. Altar remembrance packets will be given out to each visitor.
As they say in Italian, “Buona festa di San Giuseppe” or Happy Feast of St. Joseph.