Ritual | Saturday, March 19 • 4:00-7p
Altar • Artisan breads • Sicilian pizza • Italian apertifs • Accordionist • Chalk Art
Special appearance by the Guardians of the Flame and the Gold Digger Baby Dolls
Join us to celebrate the classic Feast Day for San Giuseppe with artistics originality and local Sicilian flavor.
ITALIAN aperitifs by Loa's Alan Walter
ALTAR by Britney Penouilh
BREADS by Dong Phuong
SFINCIONE - a traditional Sicilian pizza by Emeril's pastry chef Jeremy Fogg
SIDEWALK CAFÉ • ACCORDIONIST • CHALK ART
International House, New Orleans’ premiere boutique hotel, celebrates its 17th annual St. Joseph’s Day by offering locals and visitors alike an experience manifest with the rites and rituals that heighten daily life in this most spiritual city. On Saturday March 20 from 4-7 pm, the hotel will celebrate the Feast of San Guiseppe with Sicilian flair in its local, multi-cultural incarnation. In the lobby, near a magnificent food-laden altar, the Guardians of the Flame Mardi Gras Indians presented by Cherice Harrison-Nelson (daughter of the tribe’s founder) will perform along with the Gold Digger Baby Dolls in cooperation with Kim Vaz-Deville, (associate dean at Xavier University and author of The “Baby Dolls”: Breaking the Race and Gender Barriers of the New Orleans Mardi Gras Tradition). Just outside the hotel, a sidewalk café with an accordion player will magically materialize, along with Italian aperitifs, Sicilian pizza from Emeril's pastry chef Jeremy Fogg, cookies from Angelo Brocato and breads from Dong Phuong, a Vietnamese bakery.
Just as New Orleans’ extensive Sicilian community practices in private homes and neighborhood churches, International House honors St. Joseph with this altar installation created by local artist Britney Penouilh with her wonderful partners from New Orleans’ culinary and cultural communities.
Traditional in shape, the three-tiered altar honors the Holy Trinity. A statue of St. Joseph holding the infant Jesus stands at the top tier with delicate lilies below. Sawdust from the carpentry of the exhibit is bottled and placed on the altar, with various tools and symbols entirely made of bread. They intone the edible hagiography of Joseph and Sicily: hammers, nails, citrus, fennel, anise, sesame, figs, crosses, a crown of thorns, hearts and fava beans. Other elements remind us of the withered vines and barren fields that daunted the Sicilian landscape before its people pleaded with St. Joseph for relief.
New Orleanians, like their Sicilian counterparts struggling against disasters natural and man-made, are by necessity well-versed in the art of supplication, so much so that locals believe they’ve had Joseph’s ear in the most threatening of times. As Loa’s Spirit Handler Alan Walter explains, “When human efforts inevitably fall short, the saint who specializes in the issue at hand gets called upon to step in and settle the matter.” Peruse any antiques shop in the city and one finds an ample supply of well-worn saints’ paraphernalia, Joseph’s chief among them, that attests to this port city’s palpable reliance upon intercession.
Saint Joseph’s miraculous provision on behalf of Sicily in time of drought and famine has kept him the preeminent figure of paternal protection. This magnetism, in curious ecclesiastical fashion, inspires cross-pollination from other spiritual communities in New Orleans such as the Mardi Gras Indians who also march on this day.
Patience, persistence, courage and hard work are themes directly associated with St. Joseph. But a father’s love is what places this feast day front and center around the world. Though speechless in the gospels, Joseph portrays the decidedly masculine image of a family man who saves and shields with his stewardship. Catholic countries including Spain, Portugal and Italy celebrate this feast day as Father’s Day.
The soul of New Orleans is shaped by the contours of its rituals -- rituals inherited from the earliest immigrants who settled this place. Central to this ritual is the altar making, a labor of love with an age-old reverence for the patron saint of protection. Penance permeates the altars, in everything from the arrangement of items to the shapes of baked goods. Every moment of this ritual is a sacrificial offering. No one tells the story better than the altar-makers, master bakers and other New Orleanians who have kept these traditions alive.
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Number of Nights: 1