St. Joseph’s Altar at St. Anthony Church this weekend

From St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church

St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, 1010 Ferguson St., is hosting its annual St. Joseph’s Day Altar on Sunday from 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. in the basement church hall. The community is invited to partake in the festive traditional meal of meatless pasta, omelets, vegetables, and Italian pastries. The church hall is handicapped accessible. The best time to view the altar is after the 4:30 p.m. Mass on Saturday. Refreshments will also be served.

The St. Ambrogio Club at 802 Montague Street will also host an altar on Saturday from 1-5 p.m. See saintambrogio.com for more information. All at welcome at both events.

The St. Joseph Altar is an ancient Sicilian tradition that originated when the poor peasants of the impoverished island faced a famine due to drought and prayed to St. Joseph, the husband of the Virgin Mary for intercession. When the rains came and the famine ended, a wonderful tradition began. In gratitude, foods were prepared and distributed to the poor of Sicily. This wonderful tradition was brought to America by the Italian immigration. In past years, the large Italian-American community of south Rockford hosted multiple numbers of St. Joseph Altars per residential block in private homes. The public was invited to eat at the Altar, which symbolized the beginning of spring and renewal. A family would host these elaborate altars in thanksgiving for prayers answered or in sacrifice for a prayer intention. Street processions of Italian Americans carried the statue of St. Joseph throughout the neighborhoods in a festive parade, a tradition that continues today in southern Louisiana and other parts of the country. Some private homes in Rockford still host St. Joseph Altars. However, as busy modern lifestyles intervened, various Rockford Catholic churches carry on the tradition.

Join us as we celebrate spring and the Feast of St. Joseph at St. Anthony of Padua Church and St. Ambrogio Club in the Ethnic Village Neighborhood of south Rockford.

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