Title page for ETD etd-04152010-162352

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Crowley, Nara Maria Ersilia
Author's Email Address sossullivan@bellsouth.net
URN etd-04152010-162352
Title The Expansion of the St. Joseph Altar in South Louisiana
Degree Master of Arts in Liberal Arts (M.A.L.A.)
Department Liberal Arts (Interdepartmental Program)
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Brody, Jill Committee Chair
Clark, William Committee Member
Ricapito, Joseph V. Committee Member
  • religious
  • practice
Date of Defense 2009-12-11
Availability unrestricted
Crowley, Nara Maria Ersilia, B.A., The University of Massachusetts at Amherst, 2001.

Master of Arts in Liberal Arts, Spring Commencement 2010

Major: Liberal Arts

The Expansion of the St. Joseph Altar in South Louisiana

Thesis directed by Professor Mary Jill Brody

Page in thesis,113. Words in abstract, 146


According to folklore, the Catholic St. Joseph Altar tradition dates back to the

Fifteenth century droughts in Sicily. The famine that ensued resulted in prayers to the patron saint of protection, St. Joseph. Two legends evolved from the cessation of the drought - one of thanks for ending the famine, the other for protecting one vital source of nutrition, the fava bean. Two parables influenced the development of permanent traditions known today as the St. Joseph Altar. The two ideals remain intact one of gratitude, the other of petition.

The Italian Sicilian diaspora of the mid-nineteenth century sprinkled the St. Joseph Altar tradition globally. Sparsely scattered throughout the United States and internationally, South Louisiana offers more celebrations of the St. Joseph Altar than in all of North America. This comparative study explores the impetus that perpetuates and inflates the St. Joseph Altar celebration in South Louisiana.

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