March 17th may be the sacred day for Irish to honor St. Patrick, but March 19th, for those of us of Italian descent, is the day set aside to honor the man who raised Jesus as his son……St. Joseph. He is our earthly Holy Father; a man to be honored.
In large Italian neighborhoods, from New York to New Orleans…..the customs, the foods, the building of altars is done to honor and celebrate this day.
Seasoned bread crumbs, meant to look like sawdust, adorn the pasta as homage to this carpenter, chosen by God, to raise his son.
Homeowners selling their homes ask St. Joseph for intervention; you might have seen little statues targeted to those making real estate transactions. I have known several Realtors who will give a St. Joseph statue to clients…..to bury in their yards.
Some believe this custom began with German carpenters who placed a small statue of St. Joseph in the foundation of homes they built while reciting a prayer to the Saint.
Others believe the significance traces back to a place in Montreal…….a beautiful shrine to St. Joseph I have had the privilege to visit.
The story is that Brother Andre Bessette wanted to purchase some land for a shrine to the Saint, and began burying small medals of his image on property outside of Montreal in the late 1800’s when the owner refused to sell. In 1896, the owner relented, and the site of the beautiful St. Joseph’s Shrine was obtained. It is a magnificent place where the reverent climb, sometimes on their knees, daunting steps to pray to this Saint.
The legend has progressed to present day as homeowners bury statues of St. Joseph in their yards to facilitate the sale of homes. Upon sale of the house, the owners bring them to their new home out of respect, or give them to the new buyers to bless the home.
Others leave him buried; but some believe this will cause the home to change ownership soon again……and again……..if St. Joseph is not retrieved from the soil.
St. Joseph is given honor in the Catholic faith as the Saint of peaceful death. This holds unique significance to me……
Her final day on earth, my mother purchased a statue of St. Joseph, which we were going to pick up the following day. She never got to hold the statue; that evening, she passed away during sleep. Perhaps she got to meet St. Joseph upon entrance to a heavenly place…..I never picked up the Statue, never gazed upon his face, but I have envisioned him more times than if he had come to my home decades ago…..
There is Blessed St. Joseph’s bread at the altars of Roman Catholic Churches in Italian neighborhoods, and bakeries display many sweets especially for his day. Visit an Italian neighborhood, take home something wonderful to honor St. Joseph today.
And if you are selling your home, pick up a tiny statue, bury him in your yard….then lift him from the ground so owner and buyer can be at rest and peace.
For St. Joseph brings peace to those who honor him.
Yes March 19th, is a very special Father’s Day; and St. Joseph will always be a special Saint because he guided my mom to meet his Son.