The tradition of St. Joseph’s Bountiful Tables will continue this weekend at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Blende, Pueblo County.
For the ninth consecutive year, the large cross-shaped table inside Father Charles Murray Hall will be adorned with traditional St. Joseph breads, beans, frittatas, vegetables, eggs, fish, fried breadcrumbs, cakes and a host of sweets from Sicily, where the tradition began centuries ago.
Mouth-watering treats include ladyfingers, cream puffs, honey balls, cannoli and wine cookies.
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The Catholic feast dedicated to Saint Joseph falls on March 19. It pays homage to the adoptive father of Jesus Christ and patron saint of the universal Catholic Church, loved by many Sicilian Americans.
“My father was Sicilian…I grew up with St. Joseph as my patron saint since I was little,” said Patricia Klomp, chair of the church‘s St. Joseph’s Table Committee.
“He is very special to me.”
Sicilian immigrants came to the United States in large numbers in the 19th and 20th centuries, bringing with them the tradition of St. Joseph’s Tables. The tradition is believed to have started in Sicily when peasants prayed to Saint Joseph during a time of famine and drought.
“They didn’t have much money and when the drought came they prayed to Saint Joseph: ‘If you bring us rain, we will provide you with this table in thanks and we will feed the poor,'” Klomp said. . . “That was the start of the table.”
This year’s St. Joseph’s Table visits to St. Joseph’s Catholic Church will take place on Saturday, March 19 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, March 20 from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. the table will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.
After being blessed by a priest, some perishable items from the table will be buried outside the church. Foods that can be saved are packaged for community closings and donated to the Pueblo Soup Kitchen. The cakes are donated to the Women’s Y.
“We can’t sell anything at St. Joseph’s table,” Klomp said. “It is only an offering to Saint Joseph.”
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Klomp, the daughter of the late Avondale breeder Pete Pisciotta, remembers visiting extended family members’ St. Joseph tables as a child. Tables at home were often set as a way of giving thanks after a family member returned safely from war or recovered from illness.
“Before, there were several tables in the houses… but that was several years ago,” she said. “Most of those people who had those tables at home are now dead.
“It’s been around for a long time in our community and we’re trying to keep it going,” she said.
Pueblo Chieftain reporter James Bartolo can be reached by email at [email protected]