For centuries, Catholics have sought the hope, refuge and strength associated with St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of hopeless or difficult cases.

In a unique opportunity, St. Jude the Apostle Parish, Wauwatosa, will host the arm relics of St. Jude Thaddeus on Sunday, Sept. 17. There will be Mass at 2 p.m., followed by veneration of the relic until 10 p.m.

Accompanying the relics will be Fr. Carlos Martins, Director of Treasures of the Church, a ministry of evangelization that includes an experience of God through an encounter with the relics of his saints in the form of an exposition.

According to Fr. Justin Weber, Parish Administrator of St. Jude the Apostle, talks were already ongoing before he was assigned to the parish to ensure the St. Jude pilgrimage would make its way through the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

“However, with the number of priest placements this last spring, many parishes were experiencing changes in leadership. With all the changes, this pilgrimage was an opportunity that could have been lost in the mix,” he said. “Thanks to the diligence of the archbishop’s office, they reached out and ensured we were aware of this opportunity. What better place to host this pilgrimage than St. Jude’s?”

As Fr. Weber is new to St. Jude, he asked around to see if this is something they could accomplish in relatively short order.

“Each person gave me a resounding ‘yes,’” Fr. Weber said. “I was not surprised. Spending only a short time at St. Jude’s, one realizes this is an enthusiastic community with an incredible spirit of volunteerism and sharing of one’s gifts for the benefit of the community.”

Since 1949, the St. Jude shrine at Chicago’s St. Pius V Church has been the home of the relic of St. Jude, one of the Twelve Apostles. It is believed to be the largest relic of St. Jude outside of Rome.

The relic bone from the forearm of St. Jude, encased in a silver reliquary, was for centuries located in Armenia in the care of the Dominicans. As religious turmoil increased in the area, the Dominicans left the area, taking the relic with them, first to Turkey. Eventually, they ended up in Turin, Italy, in the 18th century.

Tradition says that St. Jude was martyred in Syria. His remains were later moved to Rome and today, most of his body rests in a tomb in St. Peter’s Basilica, along with another apostle, St. Simon the Zealot. In the Western Church, the two share a feast day, Oct. 28. Among the Eastern churches, St. Jude’s feast is June 19.

In 1949, the Dominican Province of St. Peter Martyr in Turin gifted the arm relic to the Dominican Province of St. Albert the Great (the Dominican central province of the United States). The relic was presented to St. Pius V Parish on the 20th anniversary of the founding of its shrine devoted to this patron saint of the impossible or desperate causes. The Chicago shrine was founded in 1929, after the stock market crash that started the Great Depression.

“We do have our own relic of St. Jude (with documentation) that is exposed for veneration during our novena of Masses, one Mass per week, leading up to the Feast of Ss. Simon and Jude,” he said.

While miracles are sometimes associated with the veneration of relics, Fr. Weber reminds us that relics are not magic talismans.

“Instead, they reveal to us concretely the marvelous way that God’s grace has worked through his saints,” he said. “In this way, they elicit true faith, and as we read over and over again in the Gospel, it is through faith that Jesus heals the human person physically and spiritually.”

In addition to hosting the major relics of St. Jude Thaddeus in their parish, Fr. Weber said the parish is excited for the opportunity to extend hospitality to the many people they expect to make a pilgrimage to the parish.

St. Jude Relic

Sunday, Sept. 17

St. Jude the Apostle

734 N. Glenview Ave., Wauwatosa; 414-258-8821

Mass in honor of St. Jude: 2 p.m.

Veneration of the relic begins immediately following the Mass

Veneration ends: 10 p.m.