March 19 is St. Joseph's Day in the Catholic Church, a day when the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and legal father of Jesus Christ is venerated.
St. Joseph School art teacher Shannon Chamoun engaged children in the elementary grades by showing them how and why decorative breads are often made for this occasion and placed on a special altar made in St. Joseph's honor.
The bread for this purpose was baked by Elementary Administrative Assistant Jane Royal. She explained that bread is usually made from a wheat-flour dough that is cultured with yeast, allowed to rise, and finally baked in an oven. Ms. Chamoun demonstrated how pieces of dough are then rolled and shaped into the decorative breads that often represent symbols of the Church such as a monstrance, a chalice, and an ichthys or Jesus fish.
The children were also told the story of how the St. Joseph Day altar first came to be. It began as a custom in Italy during the Middle Ages as a result of drought and famine. Families of farmers and fisherman had prayed to St. Joseph for deliverance from the crisis. When they finally got relief, the families built altars in their homes and shared their good fortune with others in need. Ms Chamoun was to begin assembling an altar March 16th. Because of the school closing relating to virus preparedness, that will wait until students return to classes.