The members of St. Mary Catholic Church, in Orange, held a St. Joseph’s Altar Sunday at the parish hall. The alter was covered with the various foods and flowers.

Saint Joseph is one of the most beloved saints among Italian-Americans. As the patron of workers and the protector of the family, he is honored with a feast on March 17. Reasons for the altar vary from giving thanks to a favor granted to the healing of a sick loved one. It is also an opportunity for the local people to help the less fortunate.

The ancient tradition of the altar goes back to the middle ages. At that time, a severe drought ravaged Sicily. As a result, the crops failed and a large amount of people died of famine. The peasants prayed to God for rain and they also prayed to St. Joseph to intercede with God on their behalf. They promised if the rain came they would have a special feast to honor God and St. Joseph. In honor of that feast, St. Mary’s volunteers prepare authentic Sicilian dishes for the annual Feast Day.

Pictured above is Father Joseph Daleo blesses the Altar Sunday before the feast can begin.