BY MIKE SPENCE | The Pueblo Chieftain | March 16, 2019
For the sixth consecutive year, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Blende will host a St. Joseph Table.
The table will be on display in the Father Charles J. Murray Hall, 1145 Aspen Road, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, 2-7 p.m. on Monday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday — St. Joseph’s Day.
The table will be blessed by the Rev. Joseph Vigil at 12:30 p.m. Sunday and again at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.
The public is welcome to view the table and to join the St. Joseph’s Church community for fellowship, prayer and refreshments.
The St. Joseph's Table tradition honors Joseph, the father of Jesus, who is Sicily’s most important saint. It dates back to the Middle Ages. During one period, there was an exceptionally severe drought in Sicily. No rain fell. Crops dried up or didn’t grow at all, and thousands of people died of famine.
The peasants prayed to God for rain. They also prayed to St. Joseph to intercede with God on their behalf. They promised that if God cause it to rain, they would have a special feast honoring God and St. Joseph.
A miracle occurred. The rains came and the crops were planted. With the harvest, the people prepared a feast of foods from their crops. This has become known as the Tavola di San Giuseppe.
During the centuries since, people who have prayed for a favor and been granted the favor use the St. Joseph Table festivity to show their thanks. The “favor” requested must not be for personal gain or benefit. Common requests are for the safe return of a loved one from a war, or that a loved one be cured of a serious, life-threatening illness or accident.
The focal point of the table is a statue of St. Joseph, complemented by lighted votive candles and stick candles. On the table are only foods grown by peasants or found growing wild in fields, items such as honey, greens, a variety of vegetables and fruits. Also displayed in vases are shafts of wheat and spaghetti. The table at St. Joseph’s Church also features the church’s famous lady finger cookies. Ladies at the church baked 2,500 of the cookies to be included on the table and also to be served as refreshments to visitors who come to observe the table, according to Debi Genova, one of the organizers of the baking effort.
No meat is included in the display because it is the Lenten season.
The St. Joseph Table tradition at St. Joseph’s Church was started as a way of saying thanks for the many blessings of the church and its parishioners. The St. Joseph Table tradition will be observed at other local churches and even by local families.