BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Food overflowed at the altars of many Catholic churches Tuesday as people around the world celebrated St. Joseph’s Day.
Held each year on March 19, Catholics honor St. Joseph, the legal father of Jesus Christ and husband of the Virgin Mary.
In Biloxi, Nativity BVM hosted the church’s annual St. Joseph’s altar, filling the church with food in honor of the saint.
Church officials tell us they lay out a St. Joseph’s altar because tradition teaches that many years ago in Italy there was a great famine and the people prayed to their patron saint, St. Joseph. St. Joseph answered their prayers, providing them with food during the famine.
This is the fourth year Nativity BVM has constructed a St. Joseph’s altar.
“Every year on March the 19th, all over the country, we create what we call Saint Joseph’s Alter," explained Jeanette Romero, Nativity BVM’s parish life committee chairperson. “People create these alters because they want to honor Saint Joseph. They have prayed to him and they want to honor him.”
The leftover food is generally donated to charity afterwards. Nativity BVM donated their food to Loaves and Fishes.
As in years past, second graders at St. James Elementary in Gulfport also hosted a St. Joseph’s altar for the school. Sacred Heart in Pascagoula also had a St. Joseph’s altar.
On a typical Saint Joseph’s Day altar, people place flowers, limes, candles, wine, fava beans, specially prepared cakes, breads, and cookies, as well as other meatless dishes. Foods are traditionally served containing bread crumbs to represent saw dust since Joseph was a carpenter. Because the feast occurs during Lent, no meat is traditionally allowed on the celebration table.
The altar usually has three tiers, to represent the Trinity. Wearing red clothing is also a St. Joseph’s tradition many practice.
Watch the Biloxi diocese’s full St. Joseph’s Day service in the video below: