During a famine in Sicily, when food was scarce and many people were starving, the poor people had only their faith to rely on. St. Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary, was known as the protector of the Holy Family; thus, Italians with strong family relationships prayed for St. Joseph to intercede for them, in an effort to ensure successful crops. Their prayers were answered, and the famine came to an end. In gratitude, people promised to make annual offerings of their most precious possession—food—in St. Joseph’s honor.
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Today, some Catholic churches prepare “St. Joseph Tables” to honor St. Joseph. They are filled with beautiful and often elaborate foods. Each table is blessed by a priest and presided over by a statue of St. Joseph, and the public is invited to view the tables and purchase the food. Donations typically are given to the poor.