St. Joseph is the patron saint of husbands, unborn children, fathers, workers, travelers, immigrants, accountants, attorneys, barristers, bursars, cabinetmakers, carpenters, cemetery workers, children, civil engineers, confectioners, craftsmen, the dying – doubtful – hesitant, educators, exiles, families, furniture makers, house hunters & sellers, marriage, orphans, social justice and a happy death. In addition to the Universal Church, there are continents, countries, regions and cities which also hold him as patron, such as the Americas, Philippines, Vatican City, Vietnam, China, Canada, Korea, Mexico, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Peru, Vietnam, Bavaria, Allahabad, Anchorage, Baton Rouge, Buffalo, Cologne, Carinthia, Styria, Turin, Tyrol, Sicily and many more. The name San José (or San Jose) is the most common city name in the world.
In the United States, Saint Joseph’s Day is especially celebrated in Italian-American communities. This great love of “San Giuseppe” often stems from a legend from the Middle Ages. There was a severe drought, and when the people of Sicily prayed for their patron saint to bring them rain, it came. The people had promised that if through his intercession, their prayers were answered, they would prepare a large feast to honor him. Traditionally the fava bean (the crop which saved the population from starvation) is a traditional part of St. Joseph’s Day altars (a three teared table representing the Holy Trinity) to this day, alongside flowers, limes, candles, wine, cakes, breads, cookies, meatless dishes, and Zeppole / Bignè di San Giuseppe (St. Joseph’s cake). Throughout the USA, there are communities who annually don red clothing and enjoy these dishes that often include bread crumbs in the recipes to represent the saw dust of St. Joseph the carpenter. No meat is included because the Feast Day falls during Lent.
Giving food to the needy is also a St. Joseph’s Day custom.
For the past 7 years our pastoral ministry of St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, of Point Pleasant Beach – NJ, has held a feast to celebrate St. Joseph’s Day, with the proceeds benefiting the parish school (St. Peter School). This year, as March 19th falls on a Saturday, the parish will celebrate the Mass for the Solemnity at their regular 8:30 a.m. Morning Mass. Later that day, the 5:00 p.m. Mass will be the Vigil Mass for Palm Sunday and the start of Holy Week; as the Solemnity of Saint Joseph ends – Holy Week begins. Consequently, the annual evening Feast of Saint Joseph at the parish is not possible this year. However, the parish did not cancel all together.
This year is the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy for the whole Church throughout the world, as promoted by Pope Francis. During this Year of Mercy, we Roman Catholics are to focus more on Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, including “Feeding the Hungry” and “Giving Drink to the Thirsty.” With this in mind, the 8th Annual Feast of St. Joseph is moved from Saint Peter Parish to Joseph’s House (a nonprofit organization dedicated to caring for the homeless). The feast will not be open to the public and used as a fund raiser for the school. The event will instead aid “the least of our brothers and sisters.” Joseph’s House serves 85 or more guests on a daily basis – offering shelter, meals, social services and friendship.
Pray for Us!
O God, Who in Thine ineffable Providence has vouchsafed to choose Blessed Joseph to be the spouse of Thy most holy Mother Mary; Grant, we beseech Thee, that we may deserve to have him for our intercessor in heaven whom on earth we venerate as our holy protector.