Several thousand people are expected to attend the St. Joseph’s Altar at Cypress Springs Mercedarian Prayer Center on Sunday, March 13.

The altar is free and open to the public from 12:30-4 p.m. at the center, 17650 George O’Neal Lane, near White Oak Plantation.

St. Joseph’s Altars are a reflection of deep devotion to the patron of those in need — workers, travelers, the persecuted, the poor, the aged and the dying.

The roots are from Sicily, where the first one was set up as thanks after prayers to St. Joseph led to the end of a famine.

The local altar is a display personal religious items from many who are involved with Cypress Springs Mercedarian Prayer Center.

More than 80 Prayer Partners at Cypress Springs volunteer for the event, doing everything from baking cookies to serving on the day of the event.

More than one hundred businesses are involved with the altar, including Peter Sclafani, of Ruffinos; John Folse, of John Folse and Company; Nancy Zito, of Nancy Zito Interiors; Phyllis Brister, of Interior Design, Inc.; Joni Russo, of Coles Florist; Jake Sibley, of Jake’s on the Avenue; and Carolyn Green, of Mama Mia’s Authentic Italian Cookie Co.

Eight years ago when the altar started, 300 visited. Last year more than 2,000 attended.

St. Joseph’s Day, which is March 19, is the principal feast day of St. Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus of Nazareth/Jesus Christ.

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