The Shrine of St. Jude offered its first public devotions on Sunday October 20, 1929 by the pastor of St. Pius V Parish Fr. William Marchant O.P. Unlike many foundation stories that involve an initial small foundation that steadily grows through the great care and attention of many people, the Shrine of St. Jude came onto the scene at full throttle! The plan was to offer two services to begin the first novena: one at 3pm and another at 8pm. In what can only be called the first miracle of the Shrine, people began arriving an hour early for the 3pm novena service and by the published starting time so many people filled the church that the local police and fire departments were called out of a genuine concern for public safety! The officers barred any further entry to the church and insisted that all further clients of the Shrine had to wait outside until the service was over and the entire church allowed to empty. Sadly, no pictures were taken that day.
Thankfully, we have a transcript of the first public prayer given at the Shrine by Fr. Marchant O.P.:
O Glorious Apostle, St. Jude Thaddeus, true relative of Jesus and Mary,…..look down upon me with compassion. Oh, despise not my poor prayers; let not my trust be confounded! To thee God has granted the privilege of aiding mankind in the most desperate cases. Oh, come to my aid, that I may praise the mercies of God! All my life I will be thy faithful client until I can thank thee in Heaven. Amen.
Fr. Marchant: Blessed Apostle, with confidence we invoke thee!
People: Blessed Apostle, with confidence we invoke thee!
Fr. Merchant: St. Jude, help of the hopeless, aid us in our distress!
People: St. Jude, help of the hopeless, aid us in our distress!
By the time of the 8pm evening service that first day, Fr. Merchant O.P. had 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 led to fewer people allowed inside the Church and more people kept outside waiting. In fact, it took until midnight for all the people gathered outside to pass through the Shrine and offer their prayers!
St. Jude must have known people would be in need of a patron for desperate cases and hopeless causes because no sooner than the first novena ended on Monday October 20th, the stock market crashed on Black Tuesday October 29th and the Great Depression began.
The first shrine had a marble altar located in the alcove where the Shrine has remained until this very day, on the North wall of the Church. The statue (no longer present) was provided by the generous donation of Miss Anne Profant. The altar had a tabernacle and two shelves of varying height. The background of the altar was created by heavy crimson velvet curtains and a suspended lamp. A fringed canopy was above with a shield on two sides and the petition “St. Jude Thaddeus…Pray for us.” (see Figure 1) The altar was framed by two wrought iron candle stands as well as two bracket lights affixed to the wall. Two tables of vigil candles and a prie-dieu completed the ensemble.
Fr. Merchant O.P. was given a new assignment in 1935 and replaced as Pastor of St. Pius V Parish and Director of the Shrine by Fr. Ralph Goggins O.P. Fr. Goggins only held the post for 1 year until he was given a new assignment by no less than the Master of the Sacred Order of Friars Preachers in 1936 when Fr. Vincent Burnell O.P. was appointed. Fr. Burnell’s tenure included the 10th anniversary of the Shrine in 1939. Under his direction, the Shrine underwent a dramatic upgrade overseen by the Daprato Studios of Chicago! The alcove was clad in green Alpian Italian marble and the dome above covered 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 base of the dome bears the inscription “.” The inside of the arch which frames the alcove contains 5 symbols that are meant to describe the life of St. Jude. Since the exact manner of St. Jude’s martyrdom is unknown a halberd, lance, and inverted cross are shown as possible instruments of his martyrdom. A boat and a boat hook refer to his missionary journeys as an Apostle of Jesus Christ.
Fr. Burnell O.P. was given a new assignment and replaced by Fr. Edward Hughes O.P. in 1941 just prior to the United States entering into 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 the present marble altar with marble statues was added. St. Jude stands in the center looking down upon a representation of the “peoples of the world.” From left to right, these figures include a working man in overalls, a mother with her baby, a business man, 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 in 1949.
The history of the Shrine is an ongoing project with periodic updates so come back again and see where we are!