Master of Arts in Liberal Arts (MALA)


Liberal Arts

Document Type



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 ABSTRACT 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.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Brody, Jill