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March 19

Saint of the day:

Saint Joseph

Patron Saint of the Universal Church, unborn children, fathers,

workers, travelers, immigrants, and a happy death


The Story of Saint Joseph


Everything we know about the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus comes from Scripture and that has seemed too little for those who made up legends about him.

We know he was a carpenter, a working man, for the skeptical Nazarenes ask about Jesus, "Is this not the carpenter's son?" (Matthew 13:55). He wasn't rich for when he took Jesus to the Temple to be circumcised and Mary to be purified he offered the sacrifice of two turtledoves or a pair of pigeons, allowed only for those who could not afford a lamb (Luke 2:24).

Despite his humble work and means, Joseph came from a royal lineage. Luke and Matthew disagree some about the details of Joseph's genealogy but they both mark his descent from David, the greatest king of Israel (Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38). Indeed the angel who first tells Joseph about Jesus greets him as "son of David," a royal title used also for Jesus.

Novena for Workers, the Unemployed and Underemployed

We know Joseph was a compassionate, caring man. When he discovered Mary was pregnant after they had been betrothed, he knew the child was not his but was as yet unaware that she was carrying the Son of God. He knew women accused of adultery could be stoned to death, so he resolved to send her away quietly to not expose her to shame or cruelty. However, when an angel came to Joseph in a dream and told him, 20 "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins," he did as the angel told him and took Mary as his wife. (Matthew 1:19-25).

When the angel came again to tell him that his family was in danger, he immediately left everything he owned, all his family and friends, and fled to a strange country with his young wife and the baby. He waited in Egypt without question until the angel told him it was safe to go back (Matthew 2:13-23).


We know Joseph loved Jesus. His one concern was for the safety of this child entrusted to him. Not only did he leave his home to protect Jesus, but upon his return settled in the obscure town of Nazareth out of fear for his life. When Jesus stayed in the Temple we are told Joseph (along with Mary) searched with great anxiety for three days for him (Luke 2:48). We also know that Joseph treated Jesus as his own son for over and over the people of Nazareth say of Jesus, "Is this not the son of Joseph?" (Luke 4:22)


We know Joseph respected God. He followed God's commands in handling the situation with Mary and going to Jerusalem to have Jesus circumcised and Mary purified after Jesus' birth. We are told that he took his family to Jerusalem every year for Passover, something that could not have been easy for a working man.

Since Joseph does not appear in Jesus' public life, at his death, or resurrection, many historians believe Joseph probably had died before Jesus entered public ministry.


According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the Apocryphal Date for Joseph's birth is 90 BC in Bethlehem and the Apocryphal Date of his death is July 20, AD 18 in Nazareth.


Joseph is the patron saint of the dying because, assuming he died before Jesus' public life, he died with Jesus and Mary close to him, the way we all would like to leave this earth.


Joseph is also patron saint of the Universal Church, families, fathers, expectant mothers (pregnant women), travelers, immigrants, house sellers and buyers, craftsmen, engineers, and working people in general.


We celebrate two feast days for Joseph: March 19 for Joseph the Husband of Mary and May 1 for Joseph the Worker. March 19 has been the most commonly celebrated feast day for Joseph, and it wasn't until 1955 that Pope Pius XII established the Feast of "St. Joseph the Worker" to be celebrated on May 1. This is also May Day (International Workers' Day) and believed to reflect Joseph's status as the patron of workers.


Many places and churches all over the world are named after St. Joseph, including the Spanish form, San Jose, which is the most commonly named place in the world. Joseph is considered by many to also be the patron saint of the New World; of the countries China, Canada, Korea, Mexico, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Peru, Vietnam; of the regions Carinthia, Styria, Tyrol, Sicily; and of several main cities and dioceses.

In art, Joseph is typically portrayed as an older man, with grey hair and a beard, often balding, sometimes appearing frail and a marginal figure next to Mary and Jesus, if not entirely in the background. Some statues of Joseph show his staff topped with flowers. St. Joseph is shown with the attributes of a carpenter's square or tools, the infant Jesus, his lily blossomed staff, two turtle doves, or a spikenard.

There is much we still wish we could know about Joseph -- exactly where and when he was born, how he spent his days, exactly when and how he died. But Scripture has left us with the most important knowledge: who he was -- "a righteous man" (Matthew 1:18).


In His Footsteps: 
Joseph was foster father to Jesus. There are many children separated from families and parents who need foster parents. Please consider contacting your local Catholic Charities or Division of Family Services about becoming a foster parent.



Saint Joseph,

patron of the universal Church, watch over the Church as carefully as you watched over Jesus,

help protect it and guide it as you did with your adopted son.

Prayer to St. Joseph

Sung by Angelina


So many churches around the world honor St. Joseph here are a few in Rome, Italy

Tradition and Scripture are silent with regard to the death of St Joseph.
However, a possible location of his burial is a 1st century tomb located in Nazareth
beneath the Sisters of Nazareth Convent next door to the Franciscan Casa Nova.


St Peter’s Basilica

Rome, Italy

St Joseph’s Altar

*This is the main altar in the left transept.
The Blessed Sacrament is reserved here. It is dedicated to St Joseph.

*Relics of St Simon and St Jude rest under this altar.


San Giuseppe al Trionfale (Saint Joseph at the Trionfale)

Via Bernardino Telesio 4/B

Rome, Italy

*This church is located in the Trionfale district just north of the Vatican.

*St Luigi Guanella was instrumental in the founding of this church.
It is a major center of devotion to St Joseph for the people of Rome.


San Giuseppe alla Lungàra (Saint Joseph at the Lungara)

Via della Lungàra 45

Rome, Italy

*This church is along the Tiber River just north of Trastevere.
The community located here focuses on catechizing rural areas.

*The church is dedicated to St Joseph.
The altarpiece in the main sanctuary by Mariano Rossi
depicts an angel appearing to St Joseph in a dream.


San Giuseppe dei Falegnami / Carcere Mamertino

(Saint Joseph of the Carpenters / Mamertine Prison)

Clivo Argentario 1

Rome, Italy

*This church is located in the Roman Forum above the Mamertine Prison.
It is dedicated to St Joseph.

San Giuseppe a Capo le Case

(Saint Joseph at the Head of the Houses)

Via Francesco Crispi

Rome, Italy

*This church is near the Spanish Steps. It is dedicated to St Joseph.






The feast of San Giuseppe 

(Saint Joseph Day Feast)

Do you celebrate The feast of San Giuseppe?
For most of the catholic in the world this would be Father's Day but not here in the USA. That isn't until June.
Since I was raised Southern Baptist I never celebrated Saint Joseph's Day. Not until I moved away for college.
Of coarse I would fall in love with all the catholic Italian feasts that the New Jersey / New York area celebrates.

I came to know and love Saint Joseph's Day while I lived there. I was especially fond of the Zeppoles di San Giuseppe or Sfinci di San Giuseppe!

Oh my goodness, what a treat! It is my favorite pastry in the month of March. It is only made on Saint's Joseph's Day.
That's right, this pastry is only made on March 19th! Zeppoles di San Giuseppe are heavenly, creamed filled, doughnut shaped, cream puffs, topped with a red cherry. Everyone wants one of these amazing cream puffs.

One would do almost anything to get one but tradition states once you receive a Zeppole di San Giuseppe you must give Saint Joseph thanks.
And how does one do that, well they would cheerfully shout out: “Viva San Giuseppe!!!!” 
And then the people around you would join in and give thanks too. They will sweetly scream back: “Viva San Giuseppe!” 
Everyone then laughs and smiles. What an amazing little tradition! I just love it!

Just like green is the color of the day for Saint Patrick, Red is the color of the day for Saint Joseph! That is why the Zeppoles are topped with red cherries.

Ok, so fast forward about15 years later. I am now married to an amazing Italian-American man. We have the best son who I just adore. I love to spoil him and celebrate anything and everything I can with him. We not only celebrate but I also teach my son all the fun and joy that our calendar holds.

He loves that I make learning about the saints so much fun. It brings him so much joy and happiness. He becomes very excited and can't wait to learn about the next amazing saint.

My husband and son love the feast of San Giuseppe they look forward to it every year. I am just amazed my son remembers all the little fun actives we celebrate together and why we celebrate them. I couldn't be any prouder!  


And on this day we always set our table to honor Saint Joseph and to show thanks, it is a table of Thanksgiving. The table is three levels which represents the Holy Trinity.


Tradition states: That a rite, a " Supper of the Saints " is celebrated : Saints knock at the door asking for hospitality; twice they are not accepted. At the third door the gate opens and the Saints enter the house, where dinner will be eaten. There the saint will see the "la tavola di San Giuseppe," or Saint Joseph's Table. This is a detail that must be honored. It is of the highest importance. Before the table is "broken" it must be blessed--broken: before the food is served or given to the needy.

The Saint Joseph's Table should have flowers, candles, wine, bread and some “lucky” foods! The table always features a representation of St. Joseph at the center of the top tier, usually holding baby Jesus.


Fava Beans

are supposedly “lucky” since they survived during a draught in Italy during the Middle Ages when nothing else did.

St. Joseph, through God, saved worshipers from the draught, some believe.



are also thought to be good luck on this day.

A side fact: If a woman is looking to get married she should take a lemon from the altar, it will help her find a husband.

 represent the fruit of Mary's womb

grapes and figs represent crops of Italy
 olives and olive oil (also represent Italy)



are usually incorporated into dishes. They represent sawdust, which commemorates Joseph’s job as a carpenter.

They could also represent the dry earth during the draught.


*Meat (fish instead)

is usually left off the altar since St. Joseph’s Day takes place during lent.
Instead, guest feast on fish and other seafood.



A symbol of fertility and prosperity! 

To give refreshment to pilgrims and fugitives; this custom recalls the flight of Mary, Joseph and Jesus to Egypt,
to escape the order of Herod to have all the first-born males killed. 


Some of the pastries on the table are cakes shaped and decorated as a large Bible, 

pignolata (small fried cookies with honey formed into pyramids, which represent pine cones Jesus might have played with as a child; individual pignolata are said to represent Mary's tears),

sugar-coated almonds (representing the seed of the Holy Spirit), 

poppacalkova (pastry containing a dyed boiled egg, representing the coming of Easter and the beginning of spring), 


cannloi, sfinge di San Guiseppe (St. Joseph's Day cream puffs) biscotti, orange cookies, cherry cookies, fig cookies, chocolate cookies, snowball cookies, seed cookies, orange cookies (cookies represent Jesus', and the community's concern for children), 


cencl'all fiorentina (also called bowknots, representing the community's strong tie to St. Joseph), 

scardalina (also called dead man's bones (representing the bones of those who suffer from hunger & thirst, both in long-ago Italy and in the present).

a "rosary cake"-small decorated cakes "strung" together like rosary beads, with a cross at the end.


bottles of blessed non-sacramental wine (representing the miracle at Cana)


 small vases containing uncooked spaghetti noodles, candles, flowers, and small statues of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus

Bread it very important and the " loaves " have the shapes & symbols of Pentecost which represent different things. Here are a few:

Bread shapes for St. Joseph’s Day:

  • The Latin Cross: The ultimate symbol of our Lord’s suffering and salvation.

  • The Bambino: The baby Jesus to whom St. Joseph was foster father.

  • St. Joseph’s Staff: Legend has it that St. Joseph’s staff blossomed into a lily, a symbol both of life and death.

  •  St. Joseph’s Purse: This symbol is a reminder to give alms to the poor during Lent.

  • A Sheaf of Wheat: Wheat is a reminder that, when a single, tiny grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it bears much more food at harvest time—and that the early spring harvest of greens is almost here.

  • St. Joseph himself: He is always represented in profile and hunched over with a cane, symbolizing that he was (according to tradition) an old man, full of wisdom.

  • St. Joseph’s Beard:  This is actually just the Sheaf of Wheat turned upside down, but young children delight when their fathers and grandfathers hold their beard up to their face. It is another reminder of Joseph’s wisdom and old age.

  • Heart: A symbol of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary that flourished throughout Italy in general and Sicily in particular in the 19th century.

  • The Crown of Thorns: This is in remembrance of Christ’s passion and a reminder that, despite the day’s feasting among Lent’s fasting, Lent is still a season of sorrow—but of hope, too!

  • the chalice (representing wine served at the Last Supper),

  • the dove (symbol of the Holy Spirit),

  • the lamb (referring to Jesus as the lamb of God),

  • the fish (the symbol of Christianity),

  • wreaths (symbols both of love and of Jesus' crown of thorns),

  • the staff (Joseph's shepherd's crook),

  • palms (representing the palms laid at Jesus' feet as he entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, but sometimes also said to represent Mary).

  • Some breads may be shaped to resemble instruments of the Passion or the tools of the carpenter's trade-ladders, hammers, etc.

  • Still others may be fashioned into fanciful decorative shapes such as flowers and birds (especially doves, symbols of Christianity), the sun, moon, and stars, or other imaginative shapes.

  • Fig breads are also molded and cut into these shapes for display on the table.

    After the ritual of the dinner there is the blessing of the " loaves " which are then distributed to the children, who represent the Holy Family and to the various visitors who came to witness the " Eaters of there Saints ". 

Other St. Joseph’s Day staples include eggplant Caponata, excellent for dipping with Italian bread; as well as Pasta con Sarde, Egg frittas, bean dishes, olives, and especially lentils. The very first “greens” of springtime, dandelions and cardones (“burdock”), are sprinkled on pizza. Fish and seafood from both the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas, especially anchovies and sardines (from “Sardinia”, another Italian island), are served on Foccaccia (Italian flat-bread),  pasta with sardines and fennel , or the virdi soup of San Giuseppi (legumes and vegetables with scraps of various types of pasta) from Palermo or the " ministredda " of Augusta (* ingredients must be nineteen). The " maccu ", or Maccu di San Giuseppe, (soup) known throughout the region but particularly in the Syracuse area, composed of dried beans , lentils ,, onions , dried chestnuts , oil and ... much more; was present in every house and had to be sent & received, as a sign of good wishes, to relatives, friends, neighbors and also to the poor in the neighborhood. And then the sarde a beccaficu , broccoli and " sparaceddi " and many other dishes, not meat, because we are in Lent . 

As beautiful as the Saint Joseph’s Day Table is to behold, it is a practical work of art: it is meant to feed not only friends and relatives but, traditionally, to feed the hungry strangers, those who cannot host their own Table either due to poverty or a particularly bad harvest in their family or having run out of food over the wintertime. Stunning to behold and delicious to partake in, a Saint Joseph’s Day Table is a tradition which is still carried on to this day. 





La Festa di San Giuseppe In Italy

St. Joseph is a symbol of the family, honesty, humility and love for simple things.



Saint Joseph, the third member of the Holy Family, is often overlooked, possibly because of his absence in the adult life of Jesus. The last time Saint Joseph appears in the New Testament was at the Passover feast in the temple when Jesus was 12 years old and after that he disappears. He was neither present at the Wedding in Canna or the Passion. Some speculate that Joseph had passed away by that time. Saint Joseph’s limited presence in the New Testament doesn’t mean he is totally forgotten by Christians. In Catholic Countries, on March 19th, his feast day, is also known as Father’s Day. The carpenter, father of Jesus, has become a figurehead for fatherhood and celebrated as such.

The Novena

In Italy, the feast of Saint Joseph is celebrated with a variety of traditions. Regionally this varies from different areas in Italy and Sicily. In central Sicily, Saint Joseph’s feast lasts from March 10th – March 19th. The feast is preceded by a novena, whose prayers and meditations are guided by the parish priest who invites the faithful to reflect on the figure of Saint Joseph, the righteous man, protector of the family and dispenser of graces. The Patriarch is prayed and implored for families, people, benefactors and the sick.


The Entrance of the Laurel Leaves
March 10th, a time of prayer, starts the novena of Saint Joseph. A parade of men on horseback holding laurel branches, followed by a tower which is 10 meters high, covered with various forms of blessed bread, surmounted by the painting of Saint Joseph, pulled by a cart marking the start of the Saint Joseph’s feast.


Receiving Grace

Ten to fifteen days preceding March 19, the devotees show gratitude to the Saint for grace received by setting up the ‘Tavole di San Giuseppe’, or the ‘Tables of Saint Joseph’. This consists of a three level alter/table and two additional single level side tables.

The family who made the "prumissione" (the promise) will put a massive amount of effort and preparation into the altar/tables; therefore, the promisee will ask for help from neighbors, relatives and friends accepting devotion to the saint.


Saint Joseph's altars are typically three levels, representing the Holy Trinity and the unity of the Holy Family.


The walls are also covered with white lace or white embroidered linen, on which stands a painting depicting the Holy Family, surrounded by branches of laurel leaves representing glory and sanctity, along with white candles (or oil lamp a symbol of faith) and white and green flowers.

The alter is made of wood in a ladder style with three steps, about three or four meters long covered with fine white embroidered linen tablecloths.

On the altar, each thing is arranged very precisely as symbolism permeates every act, every word, and any gesture. Observing the altar, the first thing you may notice is the majestic heart. Alongside Joseph’s flowered walking stick the heart is engraved with the initials of Jesus, Mary and or Joseph. (to remind us of the promises made to the Saint).


The undisputed symbolic trinity the altar represents is the serene moments of Jesus.
The bottom represents Jesus’ boyhood, for the time spent with the Holy Family and love that binds them.

The middle step represents the most tragic and painful moment of Jesus’s life, His Crucifixion and death on Calvary. The drama of the event means that only the Cross and a few other decorative elements are placed on the altar’s shelf.

On the center of the top shelf, one will usually find the majestic Spera. This reminds us that Saint Joseph’s line descends from the lineage of King David. The Spera is represented in a finely worked monstrance of dough dedicated to the host of Jesus, representing his presence in the Blessed Sacrament. On the left and right of the "Spera" are two splendid peacocks or angles. The peacocks stand gracefully with their wide and flowing tails are symbolic of the soul’s immortality and the angles represent protection.

On the first side table, are a myriad of desserts on display. 
On a second side table, prepared with care, is the table where "li Santi" will eat; three poor people who symbolize the Holy Family. On the plates are placed three courses, each of them containing three orange segments symbolizing the unity of the Holy Family and the trinity of God. Often the saint’s plates are decorated with small flowers like an orange blossom.

The cornucopia of dishes on the altar are closely linked to St. Joseph, the Holy Family, and homeland: like pignolata with honey, representing the pinecone that Jesus played with as a child, cannolis, cookies, pastries, cakes, nougat, almonds, olives, wines, pasta, various kinds omelets, fruit, vegetables, with a sprinkle of breadcrumbs which represents sawdust to remind us that Saint Joseph was a carpenter…

The bread, a labor of love, comes in a few forms: plain topped with seeds, no seeds stuffed with figs,
and round like a donut shape stuffed with an orange (lo cucciddata).


The bread is prepared by hand and modeled in different shapes symbolizing the Holy Family.
Some important shapes for the bread are:

  • The sun which represents god

  • The monstrance and the Eucharist

  • The carpenter's tools such as the saw, hammer, scale 

  • Roses which represents Mary

  • A crown of thorns and three nails

  • Peacock

  • Angels

  • Fruit such as grapes representing spring and fertility

  • Donkey

  • Peter’s rooster

  • Rosary

  • Doves

  • Fish

  • Sacred heart

  • Saint Lucy’s eye

  • Church symbol and many more…


The bread is then finished with an egg wash and topped with a plethora of poppy seeds or sesame seeds representing spring time and fertility. Once topped the bread is then baked off.


The bread of the poor for San Giuseppi
These are distributed both on the tables of the devotees and in the church where the main altar/tables is set up. In the middle of all of the bread, for the poor, a beautiful orange rest as a gift.


On the morning of March 19th

A procession of the Holy Family unfolds from the church sacristy: three people representing the Holy Family, followed by the band, and a large number of faithful. After having walked the streets of the village, the precession enters the church to attend the solemn mass.


The parishioners, the homeless and all are welcomed to immediately go into the church sacristy, where generally the main altar/tables is set up. Together they will pray over the altar.


St. Joseph then shares a peeled orange, pieces of blessed bread, and other dishes with baby Jesus and Mary. The altar/tables will then be open for those who want to taste the dishes of the feast and empty the steps of the altar/tables except the last step that is reserved for and will be given to the Saints.


*(Fun Fact) The ritual of the dinner represents that St. Joseph and Mary, as the poor, saw themselves refused a shelter for childbirth, just as they were forced to flee to Egypt and to live covertly. Now the devotees in a sign of Christian charity want to symbolically give welcome and refreshment to the Holy Family.

*(Fun Fact) According to an ancient tradition, on the eve of the feast, place on all the tables is a bowl with water and a saltcellar, where the imprint of St. Joseph's fingers will be found in the morning, which was blessed from the night before.      

Chariot of the Loaves (night of fun)

On the evening of March 19th, after Mass, the procession of the Saint begins. Bonfires are lit in the town to celebrate Saint Joseph. The chariot of Saint Joseph which carries his bread is brought down the town’s main street and the bread is then given to the people.               


Knock Knock!

Walking through the town St. Joseph holds a stick in his hand, topped with 3 lilies or freesia flowers. After the blessing, the Holy family are followed by the town’s people heading to homes, looking for a closed door to knock on. At the first home’s door St. Joseph knocks three times and is denied entry (as when Joseph and Mary were pregnant and refused refuge at the inn in Bethlehem), Saint Joseph knocks at the next (2nd) home but again he is denied entry, at the 3rd home the door opens and the Holy Family is finally received. At this point the owners immediately offered St. Joseph a place to refresh himself and to wash his hands. Once refreshed, (symbolic of purification), the owner give St. Joseph a little salt with water representing grace and wine a symbol of abundance. 

Thankful, Saint Joseph pronounces the following blessing: "'Ncantu' ncantu is the ancilu santu, Patri, Figghiu and Spiritu Santu" translated in these words: in every corner, there is a guardian angel because here lives the trinity: the father, the son, and the holy spirit. The Holy Family then sits at the table and is served dinner by the home owners. After the saints have finished their plates then all may eat at the dinner table.  

The Hospitality of the People (home):

In Sicily, the practice is to set the ‘Tavole di San Giuseppe’, or the ‘Tables of Saint Joseph’.
In preparation, a small altar with an image of the saint and an oil lamp/candle, a symbol of faith, is placed in front of the picture, and is lit for three days. The alter is decorated by freesias flowers and bread. The bread represents the Divine Providence and is a human labor of love. Loafs are perfectly round shape as a symbol of our unlimited faith and are always placed in numbers of three or multiples of three. Along with three bottles of wine, symbolic of abundance, and near them an orange to represent a source of well-being for the farmers. 

On the evening of March 18th, it is usual to set a table with pasta, rice balls, vegetables, fresh fish, eggs, pastries, fruit and wine and to invite the poor into your home to eat. Homeless people are made welcomed at the table, while three poor children are there to represent the Holy Family.
Houses are decorated with a wreath of orange branches symbolizing Sicily and the power of faith and prayer.


Something sweet, special and coming to America!
Food of course plays an important part in the feast all over the country, with the “Zeppole” of Saint Joseph being the most famous indulgence celebrating the Feast of St. Joseph /Father’s Day. Hailing from Campania, their invention is linked to a recipe that dates back to 1837 in the Neapolitan cook book written by Ippolito Cavalcanti. Round in shape, they are made with flour, sugar, eggs, butter, stuffed with custard and topped with confectioner sugar and sour black cherry to decorate. They can be fried or baked. As for many Italian recipes, each region has its version: if in Salento, Apulia, zeppole are traditionally fried in lard, and made with water, lard, salt, flour, grated lemons and eggs. In Sicily they are fried, made with flour, rice, orange honey and confectioner sugar. In Reggio Calabria ricotta cheese and cinnamon is added. During this time, a great wave of Italian migration to America took place. New Orleans and New York were both large ports of entry for immigrants where the impact of the Italians immigrants can still be felt to this day. New Orleans celebrates Saint Joseph’s Day in big style. The bigger the better and over the years it has really evolved into something amazing. This day brings community together, Catholics and non-Catholic, Italians and non-Italians, everyone is welcomed. Since the Italian immigrants brought their traditions, cultural identity played a huge roll in how the altars were presented which was very different from the style in their homeland. Now, the Italian American Altars would be covered in colors of Red, White, and Green to represent the Italian flag. Whether you go big or go small, go traditional or go with homeland pride, Saint Joseph’s Day is bound to be special.



Viva San Giuseppe! (long live Saint Joseph)


*In the USA Saint Joseph’s Day is largely celebrated in New Orleans & New York, which were popular ports among Sicilian immigrants in the 19th century. The French Quarter has even garnered the nickname “Little Palermo.”



Traditional Italian Style Table



Traditional Italian American Style Table

New Orleans.jpeg


Saint Joseph's Day Bread

  • 1 1/2 cup warm water

  • 2 pkgs. active dry yeast

  • 2 TBS butter (shortening)

  • 1 TBS sugar

  • 1 TBS olive oil

  • 2 tsp salt

  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour

  • 1 egg, beaten

  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds



  1. In a small bowl, combine warm water, yeast, butter, sugar, olive oil and salt.  Let it stand for 5 minutes. 

  2. Place 2 1/2 cups of the flour in a large mixing bowl and add the above liquid mixture to the flour, beating on low until thoroughly blended. Add as much of the remaining flour as necessary to make a nice bread dough.  Turn onto a floured surface and knead for 6 – 8 minutes.

  3. Shape into a ball, place into a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rest for 1 hour or until doubled in size. 

  4. Punch the dough down and divide into six equal size pieces. Cover and let the pieces rest for 10 minutes.

  5. Roll each of the pieces into a 12” long rope.  Use 3 ropes per loaf of bread, braid  and secure the ends.  Place the braided loaf onto a greased baking sheet, cover and let rest 1/2 hour. 

  6. Preheat oven to 400 F.  Uncover the bread and brush with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 25 minutes, until golden.  Let cool and ENJOY!




Decorative Breads for Saint Joseph's Altar/Le Vastedde

(Decorative dough, not to eat, without yeast; filled with dried figs and raisins)



For Dough: (double the dough recipe to one fig filling recipe)

  • 2.5 pounds all-purpose flour 

  • 3 tablespoons salt 

  • 1 cup shortening 

  • water, about 18 oz+, to the touch

For Fig Filling: 
4 pounds dried figs, stems removed 
1 pound dark raisins

To Make Dough: 

  1. In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. 

  2. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until mixture
    resembles coarse crumbs, as for a pie crust. 

  3. Add water and knead until smooth. 
    Or use a mixer and paddle attachment.

  4. Cover and allow to stand for about 1 hour. 
    This will allow for an easier roll out of the dough.

  5. Roll out dough large enough to cut out the desired shape. 

  6. The dough should not be too thin, no less than 3/8-inch thick. 

  7. ****This dough will form air bubbles so poke dough to avoid large bubbles while baking.
    ****This dough should not be too wet, too wet will be lighter and fluffy but harder to hold its
           shape. So keep the dough firm. 

To Make Fig Filling: 

  1. Place figs in a large bowl, and add warm water to cover. 

  2. Let stand 10 minutes. 

  3. Drain figs and mix with raisins. 

  4. In small batches, grind fig mixture in a food processor or meat grinder. 

  5. The mixture must be finely ground. 

  6. Set mixture aside. 


Designing the Bread


  1. Different shapes can be made with this recipe. For example, to make a heart-shaped fig-filled bread cut the desired size heart out of a piece of paper to use as a template. Roll dough out to 3/8-inch thickness. Lay dough on a greased cookie sheet. Using template, cut out heart shape. 

  2. Spread enough fig filling over dough to cover the center of the heart, leaving a 1-inch space around the edges. 

  3. Gently brush edge with water. 

  4. Roll out a second piece of dough on a lightly floured surface, and using the template, cut out a second heart shape. 

  5. Gently place second heart shape over the fig-filled heart. 

  6. With your fingers, press edges together. Flute edges by hand as you would a pie crust, or seal with a fork. 

  7. At this point, whole cloves may be pressed along the outline of the heart to help seal the dough and add additional decoration. 

  8. Using a very sharp knife or Exacto (craft) knife, cut desired shapes, such as flowers, or the word "Saint Joseph," into the top layer of dough, pulling away excess dough from around design, so that the fig filling is visible. It is similar to doing cut-out work. 

  9. Bake the bread in a 300 degree F oven until dry, about 1 hour

  10. Cool completely. 

  11. Bread may be wrapped loosely in newspaper and stored from year to year. 

YIELD: The dough and filling will make several pieces, depending on the desired size. Dough and filling may be divided for smaller quantities.

Recipe #2 for Fig Bread


Dough Recipe - Inedible

  • 5 lbs. flour

  • 1 lb. shortening

Water, only enough to form a firm dough

Combine all ingredients. Knead & roll out as thin as possible yet large enough to cut out the desired shape. You need two of these shapes. Once your shape is ready add the fig filling to the dough & place the second piece of dough directly over the fig filling. Use your creative ability and begin to create a design by cutting out the top layer of the dough. Once you are done being creative you will bake it in a low heat oven until it turns to light brown.


Fig  Recipe:

  1. Purchase one circle of dried figs

  2. Soak figs in warm water for about 10-15 minutes

  3. Remove stem from each fig

  4. Grind figs

  5. If you'd like, you may add raisins

  6. Do not refrigerate paste if you plan to use it soon, it becomes too stiff to work




Saint Joseph's Day Mafalda Pasta: the bread crumbs & the mafalde represent Joseph's life as a carpenter.


St Joseph's Pasta - Mafalde di San Giuseppe 

  • 1 pound Mafalde pasta

  • 1/4 cup olive oil;

  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed 

  • 1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped 

  • pinch cayenne pepper 

  • 1/8 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice 

  • 2 tbs. butter

  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese

  • 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs  

  • 1/4 cup pasta water; salt and pepper to taste. 

  • Ricotta cheese, parsley and bread crumbs for garnish.


  • Served up with a scoop of ricotta



  1. Cook the Mafalde according to package directions, drain and reserve a cup of pasta water.

  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, lightly saute olive oil and garlic til the garlic is golden brown.

  3. Quickly stir in lemon juice and butter and make sure it is well blended.

  4. Then stir in pasta by the hand full, adding pasta water in small increments so everything is nicely coated.

  5. Stir in the bread crumbs slowly, again, making sure that the Mafalde is well coated.

  6. Finish by tossing parsley into the skillet. When all the ingredients are blended together, turn the pasta into a large bowl and toss again.

  7. Dress it up with additional bread crumbs, parsley and dollops of ricotta cheese and serve while piping hot.


Saint Joseph's Day Red Sauce

St. Joseph's Day Red Sauce Recipes

Traditionally, men take care of the pasta and the fried fish, and women prepare the baked goods.
The spaghetti sauce is also prepared according to a special recipe. It uses no cheese, but toasted bread crumbs.


  • 12 oz of tomato paste

  • 2 oz of anchovies

  • 2 large onions, chopped

  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped

  • 1/2 cup raisins

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil 

  • fennel greens, bunch



  1. Boil the fennel greens in water until they are tender.

  2. Chop finely.

  3. Save the water.

  4. Fry onion and garlic in oil.

  5. Add tomato paste and 48-ounces of the fennel water.

  6. Add anchovy, raisins, pine nuts, salt, and pepper. Cook until thick.



Egg Frittata 



  • 5 medium potatoes, sliced thin

  • 4 oz pancetta, cubed (Don't add meat during lent)

  • 4 oz chorizo, cubed (Don't add meat during lent)

  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil

  • 1 cup onion, chopped

  • 1⁄4 cup green pepper, chopped

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 4 cups chopped broccoli or spinach

  • 1/2 cup peas

  • 12 eggs, beaten

  • 3⁄4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

  • 1⁄2 cup water

  • 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves

  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt

  • 1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 1⁄2 cups monterey jack cheese, shredded (6 oz)


  1. Saute the potatoes, chorizo and Pancetta in the oil in a large skillet for about 10 minutes.

  2. Add the onion, green pepper, and garlic. Saute until tender.

  3. Add broccoli; cover and cook 5 minutes.

  4. Add the peas

  5. Arrange the vegetable mixture in an 11 x 7 x 1 1/2 inch baking dish.

  6. Combine the eggs, parmesan cheese, water, basil, salt and pepper. Beat until blended.

  7. Pour over the vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with the Monterey Jack cheese.

  8. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until set.



Zeppole di San Giuseppe

Pastry shells:

  • 1 cup water

  • 3 tablespoons butter

  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 4 eggs


Filling: (Vanilla Pudding filling)

  • 6 egg yolks

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 ounce cornstarch

  • 2 1/4 cups whole milk

  • 1 tablespoon dark rum

  • 1 teaspoon orange zest

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • zest of an orange

  • vanilla pod



  • 2 cups whipping cream, whipped

  • Powdered sugar for garnish

  • Dark cherries for garnish



Make the pastry: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

  2. In a saucepan, boil the water with the butter, salt and sugar.

  3. Add the flour all at once and cook over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until the mixture pulls away from the sides without sticking.

  4. Remove from the fire and beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Let cool.

  5. Line a sheet pan with baking paper.

  6. With a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip, pipe the dough into puffs on the sheet.

  7. Bake for 5 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake for approximately 10 minutes more or until golden brown. Remove and let cool.


Make the filling: 

  1. Beat the yolks with the sugar until very light.

  2. Add the flour and cornstarch to the yolk mixture.

  3. In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk, vanilla pod & zest of an orange to a boil slowly

  4. Add the yolk mixture while beating until smooth.

  5. Over low heat, cook until thickened, stirring all the time.

  6. Remove from heat and add the rum, orange zest and vanilla. Let cool completely and fold in the whipped cream.

  7. Fill: Split the pastries and hollow them out; fill and put the tops back on. Dust with powdered sugar. Top with cherries. 4 servings.



Sfinci di San Giuseppe


For the dough: 

  • 250 gr flour 00 or AP flour

  • 1/2 lt water 

  • 62 gr lard or butter

  • 3,5 gr salt

  • 7-8 eggs (medium size/60 gr. each)


  • vegetable oil or lard to fry


For the ricotta cream: 

  • 500 gr sheep fresh ricotta cheese, full fat. 
    (Use cow's ricotta if goat ricotta isn't attainable)

  • 300 gr sugar 

  • 80 gr dark chocolate (mini chocolate chips, chopped)

  • whipped cream

  • cherries



  1. Sift the flour and the salt

  2. Boil the water and the lard together in a  sauce pan.

  3. Mix in gently the flour stirring the mixture with a wooden spoon.
    The mix has to be extremely smooth.

  4. Transfer to a food processor 

  5. Add one egg after another until the dough stiffness
    is very creamy and soft.

  6. Heat the vegetable oil or lard in a deep pan for frying.

  7. Use a spoon to drop dough pieces into the oil.

  8. Fry until they big, puffy and golden brown.
    Don't cover crowd the pan.

  9. Remove from the oil and drain them on a wire wrack.

  10.  Once cooled cut the dough balls in half or keep the balls
    make a small whole with your finger to be able to pipe the filling.

  11. With a spatula or a knife spread
    the ricotta cheese mixture on top. (If not piping)

  12. Decorate the Sfinci (Pasties) 
    with a thin slice of candied orange or a cherry.

For the ricotta cream:

  1. The ricotta cheese must be very fresh and not too liquid.
    Strain over night, make it dry.

  2. Mix the ricotta with the sugar.

  3. Mix in the food processor until it becomes smooth & creamy.

  4. Fold in the finely chopped dark chocolate small pieces and sweetened to taste whipped cream

Mafalde Pasta Shape

saint jo bread fig.png
saint jo fig bread 2.jpg

Help out with Saint Jospeh's Day at your local parish!


Song of the Day:

In honor of our Saint who is the Patron Saint of a Happy & Peaceful Passings (Death)

 Time to Say Goodbye (Con Te Partirò)

By Sarah Brightman & Andrea Bocelli 

“Time to say goodbye... to countries I never saw and shared with you, yes, I shall experience them...
I’ll go with you... go on ships across seas... which, I know, no, no, don’t exist anymore... It’s time to say goodbye.”

The main gist of the song is separation which happens during death, but the good thing about it is that separation, according to the lyrics, it is just temporary. This means that every person should not look at death as a total separation of loved ones.

Because in the future, there will come a time that the loved ones will be reunited again in heaven.

For this reason, the song tackles separation yet it also teaches people to be optimistic. It helps grieving people see death in another way.

It may be time to say goodbye now, but this goodbye will never be forever since your souls will forever stay with each other when the right time comes.

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