Symbolism on the St. Joseph Altar
Mouseover the items on the Altar. Click on a highlighted area for more information.
Blessed bread is distributed at the Altars. Much of it is baked in symbolic shapes. This bread may be eaten. During storms, a small piece may be thrown outside and prayers said so the storm will abate.
These items represent things sacred and holy to the Church and Holy Family. The dough on this monstrance is artistically shaped to expose a fig filling. These large and elaborate pieces are not edible.
CAKES & COOKIES
Cakes and cookies of all kinds are placed on the altar. Cannoli, red wine cookies, biscotti, amaretta macaroons, fig cakes, and almond cookies, to name just a few.
There is no meat on the St. Joseph Altar as the feast occurs during Lent. It is also a reminder of the Last Supper. Whole fish represent the 12 apostles, Jesus Christ, and the miracle of the loaves and fishes.
FAVAS & BREADCRUMBS
Seasoned bread crumbs represent the sawdust of Joseph the carpenter. Fava beans, commonly called lucky beans, serve as a token of the Altar – a reminder of God’s provision through the intercession of St. Joseph. Some believe that the pantry that contains a fava bean will never be bare.
Wine is symbolic of the miracle of Cana and the vineyards of Sicily.
FRUITS & VEGETABLES
Fresh fruits, prepared salads, and a variety of fresh vegetables adorn the meatless Altar.
SYMBOLS OF ST. JOSEPH
Symbols of St. Joseph, including lilies, staff, sandals, ladder, saw, hammer, and nails, are often seen on the Altar.
Palms adorning the Altar represent the palms cast at the feet of Jesus as he entered Jerusalem