The St. Joseph’s Altar has long been an important tradition for Catholics in New Orleans. This tradition originated during the 1800’s because of Sicilian immigrants who suffered from a great famine, praying for relief from hunger to St. Joseph. Many of these immigrants eventually arrived in New Orleans, where they found their basic needs cared for. Since the immigrants escaped suffering from starvation, they showed their gratitude by setting up a lavish altar to St. Joseph every year on March 19th.
Today, these altars are still made of delicious foods which will later be given to those who suffer from hunger. These altars are created both by families and religious organizations; they can be found all around the city, even at Mount Carmel. MCA’s altar was donated to Ozanam Inn, an organization run by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul which offers shelter and food to the needy of New Orleans.
At Mount Carmel, the St. Joseph’s Altar was beautiful and consisted of many Italian foods. When looking at the table, some icons which caught the eye were the three holy statues that are standing in the back: St. Joseph holding a baby Jesus, Mary holding a baby Jesus, and Jesus. All around the table, there were loaves of bread made into intricate designs and objects, such as a chalice and a fish, to symbolize Jesus. There are even breads baked with dyed Easter eggs inside of them to remind viewers of the coming of Easter; these breads are called pupaculova. The breadcrumbs represent the sawdust of St. Joseph, the carpenter. The table also consisted of a variety of Italian cookies, Italian dishes like lasagna and stuffed artichokes, fruits, and vegetables too. For more information about the beautiful and meaningful foods on the altar, click here!
As we give thanks to St. Joseph by creating an altar to provide food to those in need at Ozanam Inn, let us as a Mount Carmel community give thanks to Mrs. Buras and all the students and clubs who contributed help to the St. Joseph’s altar this year!
Scroll through our photo gallery of the altar below!