Saint of the day:
Saint Joseph the Worker
“Labor Day” in Italy and The Feast of St. Joseph the Worker
*See March 19th
The Story of Saint Joseph the Worker
To foster deep devotion to Saint Joseph among Catholics, and in response to the “May Day” celebrations for workers sponsored by Communists, Pope Pius XII instituted the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker in 1955. This feast extends the long relationship between Joseph and the cause of workers in both Catholic faith and devotion. Beginning in the Book of Genesis, the dignity of human work has long been celebrated as a participation in the creative work of God. By work, humankind both fulfills the command found in Genesis to care for the earth (Gn 2:15) and to be productive in their labors. Saint Joseph, the carpenter and foster father of Jesus, is but one example of the holiness of human labor.
Jesus, too, was a carpenter. He learned the trade from Saint Joseph and spent his early adult years working side-by-side in Joseph’s carpentry shop before leaving to pursue his ministry as preacher and healer. In his encyclical Laborem Exercens, Pope John Paul II stated: “the Church considers it her task always to call attention to the dignity and rights of those who work, to condemn situations in which that dignity and those rights are violated, and to help to guide [social] changes so as to ensure authentic progress by man and society.”
Saint Joseph is held up as a model of such work. Pius XII emphasized this when he said, “The spirit flows to you and to all men from the heart of the God-man, Savior of the world, but certainly, no worker was ever more completely and profoundly penetrated by it than the foster father of Jesus, who lived with Him in closest intimacy and community of family life and work.”
St Peter’s Basilica
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.
Italian Chicken Minestrone Soup
Yield: Serves about 4 as a hearty entree, or about 6 smaller bowls
• 2 skin-on and bone-in split chicken breasts
• Canola oil
• Black pepper
• 3 heads garlic
• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
• 1 onion, finely diced
• 2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
• 2 parsnips, peeled and finely diced
• 2 ribs celery, finely diced
• 2 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced into small, bite-size cubes
• 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
• Pinch red pepper flakes
• 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
• 4 – 4 ½ cups hot chicken stock
• Small piece of parmesan rind, optional (*see note below)
• 2 cups Tuscan kale, chopped into small pieces
• ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, julienned
• 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
• Gnocchi, cooked and held warm with a bit of oil drizzled on
• Grated fresh parmesan, for garnish
• Warm rustic bread, on the side
(*The parmesan rind gives the soup some extra flavor as it simmers; however, if you don’t have a piece of rind, you can omit it without a problem.)
Preheat oven to 400°, and line a baking sheet with foil.
Place the split chicken breasts on the baking sheet, and drizzle them with a little oil, and a couple of good pinches of salt and pepper.
Cut the tops off of the heads of garlic, drizzle each head with a little oil, plus a pinch of salt and pepper, and wrap each head in a small piece of foil; place on the baking sheet next to the chicken.
Roast the chicken, along with the garlic, for 45 minutes; then allow both to cool until they can be handled.
Once they are cooled, shred the chicken, and set it aside; then, squeeze the roasted garlic from the papers, and using your knife or a fork, make the cloves into a paste; set the paste aside for a moment.
Place a medium-large pot over medium to medium-high heat, and drizzle in about 2-3 tablespoons of the oil, plus add in the tablespoon of butter; once melted together, add in the onion and allow it sweat for about 3-4 minutes, until translucent and softened.
To the onion add the roasted garlic “paste”, and stir it in to combine.
Next, add in the diced carrots, parsnips, celery and butternut squash and stir to combine; add in the Italian seasoning, plus a pinch or two of salt and black pepper, and the red pepper flakes, and stir to incorporate.
Add in the tomato paste and stir, and allow it to cook with the vegetables for about 2-3 minutes, or until the “raw” flavor of it is cooked out of it.
Next, add in the chicken stock and stir, followed by the piece of parmesan rind, if using; cover with a lid and simmer very gently on low for about 20-22 minutes, stirring occasionally (especially if you add the parmesan rind so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom), or until the veggies are tender.
Turn off the heat, and remove the parmesan rind, if using; add in the kale and stir to incorporate it, and allow it wilt into the soup for a few minutes; then, finish the soup by adding in the shredded chicken, the basil and the parsley (also, check your seasoning at this point to see if any additional salt/pepper is needed).
To serve, add about ¼ cup or so of cooked gnocchi to your bowl, and ladle some of the stew over top; garnish with some grated parmesan, if desired, and serve with warm bread.