Aquinas Academy and Mother of Sorrows Students Celebrate Feast Of St. Joseph

Story, Photos and Video By Mary Seamans – Multimedia Coordinator

(Crabtree, PA)
March 18, 2022

It has been a tradition for more than 25 years – the celebration of the Feast of St. Joseph at Rizzo’s Malabar Inn in Crabtree. To make the celebration special and to educate the young, owner and chef Rizzi DeFabo, invites students from Aquinas Academy, Greensburg and Mother of Sorrows School, Murrysville to a specially planned feast. Students from the schools learn about St. Joseph, learn about a special display that DeFabo created, and make cavatelli and spaghetti by hand, which they enjoy for lunch.

“Each year we set up a traditional St. Joseph’s Table, also known as an altar, fill it with flowers, breads, sweets, family memorial photos, St. Joseph pictures and statues, and a large statue of the saint as the centerpiece,” explains DeFabo. Everything on the table is symbolic of Joseph, Mary or Jesus.

Easter bread is also on display, decorated with five colored eggs symbolizing the five wounds of Christ. A red colored egg is braided into each “bread baby” to symbolize the blood shed by Jesus at his Passion. Other bread dough items on the table include Saint Joseph’s staff, a hammer, scissors, and a crown of thorns.

DeFabo says the Feast of St. Joseph is not only the biggest celebration in the restaurant, but one of the most important feasts in all of Italy. Wherever Italians have settled around the world, they have taken this feast day with them.

“The way we celebrate the feast comes from a small village in Molise, Italy called Riccia,” DeFabo explains. “Specific dishes on the menu always include baccala, fried smelts and spaghetti with raisins. We also focus on the traditional pastry, cavazoon, or “St. Joseph Pants,” which are filled with ground chickpea, honey and sugar.” Tradition dictates that they be given away and never sold. “We make nearly 3,000 cavazoons by hand each year and give them to everyone who visits the restaurant during the four days that we celebrate the feast.”

This year, St. Joseph’s Day will be celebrated at Rizzo’s Malabar Inn through March 20. Reservations are recommended.   See the video story of the visit here.


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