NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — This weekend, many Catholics are honoring the patron saint of Sicily, St. Joseph, by building and then “breaking” altars of food assembled in gratitude.

In addition to altars in many Catholic churches and private homes, an altar has arisen at the Beauregard-Keyes House in the French Quarter. It will be open to the public for only a few hours– Saturday (Mar. 18) from 10 am until 2 pm, and Sunday (Mar. 19th) from 10 am until 3 pm. Father Damien Zablocki blessed the altar today (Mar. 17).

Honoring Saint Joseph is a tradition that arrived in New Orleans with Sicilian immigrants in the late 19th century.

One volunteer at the Beauregard Keys House, Frannie Conner, tells WGNO that gratitude to St. Joseph started when the saint answered prayers for an end to a famine.

“It comes from the Middle Ages when there was a drought in Sicily and people prayed to Saint Joseph for relief from the drought and their prayers were answered. In thanks to him, they gave what was important to them, and that was food,” said Conner.

Each visitor to the altar at the Beauregard-Keys House will be given a traditional prayer card, cookie, blessed bread, and lucky fava bean.

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