A Catholic saint’s feast day is a time for family and community – New York Daily News

Like many Italian-Americans, my fondest childhood memories include fragrant food, noisy social gatherings, and the Catholic saints who brought them together. With Feast of Saint JosephOn March 19, St. Joseph’s feast comes to life with that opportunity tomorrow.

Foreigners arriving in New York’s Italian neighborhoods will find a festive mix of street traffic and delectable treats. The famous St. Joseph’s sculptures are prominently displayed in front gardens and shop windows.

To celebrate this day, my family and neighbors used to gather at a local Bronx congregation. parade – parade – in the streets carrying an icon of St. Joseph, singing hymns and reciting the rosary. When we reached the steps of the church, the crowd chanted loudly. In “The Godfather Part II,” St. If you’ve ever seen the depiction of the Rocco regiment, this will sound familiar to you.


No Italian feast would be complete without food, and St. Joseph is honored with culinary delights. making ovens muffinDeep-fried pastry crusts filled with custard or cannoli cream and topped with cherries. sphingeA similarly delectable burrito is filled with ricotta cheese. Dried orange peels and chocolate chips are sometimes added to add extra sweetness to the day. It is set alongside pastries Bread of Saint JosephBread of Saint Joseph. Nuts are baked in the form of crosses and scepters, hearts and crowns, symbolizing a kind of sacred nourishment. After all, for Italians, eating is a ritual bordered on holiness.

According to legend, it was an old-fashioned prayer that gave birth to the feast day. The nuns who taught me told stories of the drought that ravaged Sicily in the 1600s. Desperate, the Sicilians begged Saint Joseph for a miracle. Then the rain came, bringing new life to the barren fields. A huge party followed, and the Sicilians built huge, colorful altars to give thanks to St. Joseph.

Devotion to him does not end there. Saint Joseph is the patroness of laborers, carpenters, fathers, the unemployed, expectant mothers, families, immigrants and travelers. Declared protectors of the Universal Church in 1870, America, Canada, Belgium, Croatia, the Philippines, and Indonesia, among others, claim to be its protectors. The reasons he mediates are many, including selling the house and ensuring a happy death.

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In fact, St. There is very little Joseph cannot do.

A close friend struggling to find a job, St. He called Joseph a novena, a prayer typically recited for nine consecutive days, and was immediately offered a job. Whenever a cousin looks for parking, St. He calls Joseph. The burst pipe in the basement? Shout out to St Joseph, for the house is his spiritual jurisdiction.

Despite his popularity, we know very little about Saint Joseph outside of scripture. Born in Bethlehem of royal Jewish ancestry, he lived a simple life as a carpenter. He served as the touchstone of the Holy Family, as the protector of Mary and mentor of young Jesus, and probably died before Jesus entered public service. In the Gospel of Matthew Joseph is referred to as “a righteous man”.

But what makes him a role model for today is St. It’s not Joseph’s spiritual identity – we learn our greatest lessons from his human character. We see a man who finds out that the woman he married is pregnant with someone else’s child, but prefers to stay with him. We see a man who leaves everything he knows and flees to a foreign country to keep his family safe. We see a man looking into his stepson’s eyes and recognizing his own capacity for unconditional love.

Joseph’s life was nothing more than a portrait of courage. Not because he closes his eyes to what’s going on around him and still gets the job done, but because he encounters unbelievable situations and acts with compassion. When we strip away centuries of feasts and miracles, we find a man who understands the frailty of the mortal heart but embraces the divine power of the immortal soul.

In a time of mounting disaster, social upheaval and deep partisan divisions, St. Joseph offers our community ways to overcome despair and doubt and help those in need. With her refreshing approach to humanity, she encourages us to model humility and empathy and embrace the transcendent power of seeing the divine within all of us. If that doesn’t deserve a feast day – and muffin – I do not know what it is.

Pagliarulo is the author of “The Evil Eye: The History, Mystery and Magic of the Quiet Curse,” due out in May.