The Shrine of St. Jude, under the direction of the pastor of St. Pius V Parish, Fr. William Marchant O.P., celebrated public devotions for the first time on Sunday, October 20, 1929. Unlike many such stories involving an initially small organization steadily growing through the great care and attention of many people, the Shrine of St. Jude came onto the scene at full throttle!

Initially planning two services, the first “miracle” of the Shrine occurred when a large crowd began to arrive an hour early for the first Novena. By the published starting time, so many people filled the church that the friars called the police and fire departments out of concern for public safety. Officers barred any further entry to the church and insisted all further visitors to the Shrine wait outside until the service ended and the entire church emptied.

Figure 1

By the time of the evening service that first day, Fr. Merchant O.P. developed a better understanding of what to expect and the tremendous devotion to St. Jude that inspired so many to come to the Shrine. City officials provided personnel to direct and manage the anticipated crowd which allowed for fewer people inside the Church; a much safer option. It took until midnight for all the people gathered outside to pass through the Shrine to offer prayers!

Coincidentally, that first novena ended on Monday October 20th and the stock market crashed a bit more than a week later on Black Tuesday October 29th. The Great Depression had begun.

Figure 2

Our first shrine featured a marble altar and statue of St. Jude located in the alcove on the North wall of the Church, where the Shrine has remained until this very day. Miss Anne Profant gifted the statue with her generous donation. The altar included a tabernacle and two shelves of varying height. Heavy crimson velvet curtains and a suspended lamp provided the background for the altar, along with a fringed canopy above, with a shield on two sides and the petition “St. Jude Thaddeus…Pray for us.” (see Figure 1) Two wrought iron candle stands as well as two bracket lights affixed to the wall framed the altar. Two tables of vigil candles and a prie-dieu completed the ensemble.

Fr. Merchant O.P. took a new assignment in 1935, replaced briefly by Fr. Ralph Goggins O.P. as Pastor of St. Pius V Parish and Director of the Shrine. Fr. Vincent Burnell O.P. soon followed. Fr. Burnell’s tenure included the 10th anniversary of the Shrine in 1939.

Under his direction, the Shrine underwent a dramatic upgrade overseen by Daprato Studios of Chicago. These artisans chose to clad the alcove in green Alpian Italian marble and to cover the dome above in Venetian mosaic. The center of the mosaic includes the Dominican coat of arms surrounded by two of the mottos of the Order: Veritas (Truth) and Laudare, Benedicere, Praedicare (To Praise, To Bless, To Preach). (see Figure 3)

The inside of the arch framing the alcove contains five symbols describing the life of St. Jude. While we do not know the exact manner of St. Jude’s martyrdom, a halberd, lance, and inverted cross represent possible instruments of his martyrdom. A boat and a boat hook refer to his missionary journeys as an Apostle of Jesus Christ.

Figure 3

When Fr. Burnell O.P. received a new assignment in 1941, leading Fr. Edward Hughes O.P. to replace him just prior to the United States entering WWII. Fr. Hughes tenure included a very special anniversary in 1949: the 20th anniversary of the Shrine of St. Jude and the 10th anniversary of the newly created Province of St. Albert the Great.

Once again, the Daprato Studio lent their artistic expertise and added the present marble altar with marble statues. St. Jude stands in the center looking down upon the “peoples of the world.” From left to right, these figures include a working man in overalls, a mother with her baby, a businessman, a young woman with a scarf on her head, a nurse in uniform, a doctor with his stethoscope, a Dominican priest, and a Dominican nun. The reception of the arm relic of St. Jude from the Dominican Province of St. Peter Martyr in Turin, Italy, topped off this wonderful year of celebration.