"Devotion, Artistry, and the Cult of St. Joseph" Symposium

Joseph Sciorra's picture
March 20, 2020 to March 21, 2020
Louisiana, United States
Subject Fields: 
African American History / Studies, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Immigration & Migration History / Studies, Religious Studies and Theology, Women's & Gender History / Studies

Devotion, Artistry, and the Cult of StJoseph

A Symposium

March 20–21, 2020

Xavier University of Louisiana

Administration Building Auditorium

1 Drexel Drive

New Orleans


Interest in and devotion to St. Joseph the Carpenter—the Virgin Mary’s husband and Jesus’s foster-father—has been present among Christians since the earliest centuries of the Common Era. Three academic institutions—Xavier University of Louisiana, Cabrini University, and the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute of Queens College (City University of New York)—have collaborated to organize the symposium “Devotion, Artistry, and the Cult of StJoseph.”

This unique event examines the patron saint of workers, sickness, and even a happy death from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Special emphasis will be given to how devotees of St. Joseph—in particular Italian Americans and African Americans—have artistically expressed their intimate connection to this wonder worker. Particpants include scholars and New Orleans community members who will discuss the rich devotion and creativity for this holy figure. 


Free and open to the public.


Cosponsored by the Institute for Black Catholic Studies and the Division of the Fine Arts and Humanities at Xavier University.


For information contact Nicole Blunt (504) 520-7664, nblunt@xulma.edu/


Program subject to change.


Friday, March 20th


9:30-10                        Welcoming remarks 


10-10:30                      “Baking is a Form of Worship”: Saint Joseph’s Day Bread and the Sacred Alchemy of the Oven

                                     Sara Jane Bell (Vance-Granville Community College)


10:30-11                      Sicilian St. Joseph’s Tables and Political Advocacy in Southern California

                                     Luisa Del Giudice (Independent Scholar)


11-11:30                     Migration, Caritas and Pan Italian American St. Joseph Celebrations in Rural Western New York

                                   Karen Park Canning (GLOW Traditions) and Christine Zinni (College of Brockport SUNY)


11:30-11:45                BREAK


11:45-12:15                “This is How We Do It:” Living Diaspora in Sicily and Texas

                                   Circe Sturm (The University of Texas at Austin)


12:15-12:45                The Transnational Tavola: Performance and Consumerism of Recent Sicilian Immigrants’ St. Joseph Altars in                                              New York City

                                    Joseph Sciorra (Queens College)


12:45-2:30                  LUNCH


2:30-3                         From Masked Balls to Altars: St. Joseph’s Day Celebrations in New Orleans

                                    Laura Guccione (Independent Scholar)


3-3:30                         A Different Man of (Different) Labor: St. Joseph and Vernacular Hagiology in New Orleans  

                                    Stephen C. Wehmeyer (Champlain College)


3:30-4                         Pangadto Kang Jose: The Iconography and Cult of Saint Joseph in the Philippines

                                   Honey Libertine Achanzar-Labor (University of the Philippines Manila)


4-4:15                         BREAK


4:15-4:45                    A Stepfathers Legacy and Legend: St. Joseph, the Stepfather Role Model for the Modern World?

           Michele Meservie Montecalvo (St. Francis College)


4:45-5:15                    Paternas Vices and Saint Joseph in Eucharistic Prayers after Vatican II

                                   Trevor B. Williams (Villanova University)


5:15-5:45                    “How To Bury the St. Joseph Statue”: Vernacular Devotions, Commercial Expedience, and the Tradition of the                                            Patron Saint of Real Estate Post-Vatican II

                                    Leonard Norman Primiano (Cabrini University)


Saturday, March 21


9:30-10                        Welcoming remarks 


Community Voices, Local Knowledge

10-10:45                      Sandra Scalise Juneau with Kay Turner (New York University)


10:45-12:30               Donald Harrison, Cherice Harrison-Nelsom, Big Chief Tyrone

                                   Casby, and Arthel Neville with Nick Spitzer (Tulane University)


End of symposium

Contact Info: 

Nicole Blunt (504) 520-7664

Contact Email: