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St. Joseph Altar, an Italian Tradition

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A long time ago and far away, there was a drought and resulting famine on the island of Sicily.  The people were desperate for sustenance.  It was during the Middle Ages and there was no Red Cross or United Nations rescue efforts. As they watched their crops fail and their families starve, the people turned to prayer.  The Patron Saint of Italy is St. Joseph and it was through his intercession that they prayed for help.
When the heavens finally opened up and the rain replenished the land the people were very thankful to their patron saint for answered prayer.  They built an altar, adorned it with breads, fish and sweets and dedicated it to St. Joseph. Thus began the tradition of St. Joseph altars in Sicily. 
Now Italians and Christians around the world continue the practice that recalls the devotion of the Sicilian people and their gratitude for the end of the drought that almost destroyed their way of life.
Tradition has it that those who build a St. Joseph’s Altar must beg for foods …