HISTORY: The tradition of St. Joseph altars in New Orleans

HISTORY: The tradition of St. Joseph altars in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Thursday celebrates the Feast of St. Joseph. Beautiful and bountiful displays are up around the area as St. Joseph altars open for viewing.

The tradition was brought to New Orleans Sicilian immigrants. New Orleans was a major port for the Italian immigrants during the late 19th century.

According to tradition, the people of Sicily were struck with famine and drought during the Middle Ages. They prayed to St. Joseph, their patron, to rid the island of famine. They promised St. Joseph that if their prayers were answered, a large feast would be prepared in his honor.

The skies opened and rain returned to the island, according to legend. The people of Sicily prepared a large banquet to honor their patron saint.

Now, giving food to the needy is a St. Joseph's Day custom. Altars, both private and public, are open to visitors around New Orleans who wish to pay homage.

The food is distributed to charity when the altars are dismantled.

For a list of altars in the area, click here: http://bit.ly/1Cz2jjz

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