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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) —New Orleans has many old-world traditions. The tradition of St Joseph’s Day and St Joseph’s Altar has been in New Orleans since the late 1800’s.

The historic Beauregard-Keyes House was built in 1826 and has been owned by several families over the years. In 1904, Sicilian immigrant and wine merchant, Corrado Giacona, along with his family, were the last to live in the house.

Fran Conner is a Docent Volunteer at the Beauregard House and says, “this whole area of the French Quarter was heavily populated by Sicilian Immigrants and this is a tradition that was brought over from Sicily.

The altar is a monument of beauty and looks like some of the very best classical still life oil paintings. There are fava beans, stuffed artichokes, artisan baked breads, citrus fruit and a cornucopia of other items.

While St Joseph is front and center, the 2022 version of the altar has a whole team of Saints.

“We have St. Joan on the altar, who is the unofficial Saint of New Orleans. We have St. Martha, our household Saint who I have while I am cooking. We have St. Patrick because tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day! Because of what is going on in Ukraine, we have St Vladimir and St Olga,” says Conner, as she points out the Saints.

This year marks the sixth official altar at the house in recent years. However, the tradition of St Joseph’s Day and St Joseph’s Altar stems from the middle ages, when St Joseph is credited to have saved Sicily from severe drought. Since the miraculous rain, many people of faith, honor the earthly father of Jesus Christ on March 19th.

Fran Conner knows the story well and says, “when the rains came, the crops started growing again. To be thankful for that, they gave what was important to them, which was food. They would celebrate St Joseph’s day and distribute the food to the poor.

The St. Joseph’s Altar at the Beauregard Keyes House will be on display until March 19th. There is also a tribute display that honors creoles, Super Sunday and Mardi Gras Indians.