First-class relic of Saint Jude Thaddeus

A nationwide pilgrimage of a unique first-class relic of Saint Jude Thaddeus – patron saint of lost causes and desperate situations – is visiting two parishes in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia next week.

The relic – the forearm of Saint Jude, encased in a wooden reliquary carved into the shape of an upright arm imposing a blessing – will first visit Saints Simon and Jude Church in West Chester, Chester County on Wed., Jan. 31, followed by St. Jude Church and Shrine in Chalfont, Bucks County on Fri., Feb. 2.

At both parishes, veneration starts at 1:00 p.m. and ends at 10:00 p.m. with Mass celebrated at 7:00 p.m.

This ancient relic of Saint Jude – often called the “Apostle of the Impossible” – is currently traveling in the U.S. for the first time.

The tour started in Sept. 2023 and concludes in May 2024. Making stops in 100 cities, its mission is to bring comfort and hope to those in need.

Father Terry Weik, Senior Priest at Saint Jude Church and Shrine in Chalfont, calls the pilgrimage “a primary tool for evangelization,” noting that people need hope as “many Catholics are falling away from the faith” and people are dealing with the aftermath of the long COVID pandemic.

“This saint is renowned for desperate cases coming through,” says Father Weik. “Where there is a need for hope, he brings hope.”

The nationwide tour of the Saint Jude relic is brought to us by Treasures of the Church, a traveling ministry of evangelization that brings a host of relics to various Catholic churches nationwide. Father Carlos Martins, Director of Treasures of the Church, is accompanying the Saint Jude relic on the tour.

Saint Jude suffered martyrdom in Beirut during the first century together with another Apostle, Saint Simon the Zealot, with whom he is usually connected.

Saint Jude’s body was transferred from Beirut to Rome during the time of  Emperor Constantine, and placed in a crypt within Saint Peter’s Basilica. His remains are under the main altar of Saint Joseph, in a tomb along with those of Saint Simon.

The arm was removed from Saint Jude’s tomb centuries ago and placed into the reliquary. Its permanent residence is the Church of San Salvatore in Lauro, in central Rome. All free will offerings collected during the tour will go toward replacement of that church’s roof.

“His arm hugged Jesus,” said Marty Harris, a parishioner at Saints Simon and Jude in West Chester, who is actively involved with the event coordination. “Lots of people have their lost causes and desperate situations. They’ll get to have a special visit with the relic and feel [a tangible] connection to the saint.”

Father Weik describes Saint Jude as “a most beloved saint” who’s “heavenly intercession has a transformative presence.”

Father Weik read about the opportunity to host the relic last summer and applied immediately for his parish to be a stop on the tour. He expects between 2,000-3,000 people to visit his parish to venerate the relic.

Visitors to both parishes will have roughly 10-15 seconds to stand directly in front of the relic.  They may then go into a pew and pray.

Father Weik recommends visitors pray while standing in line to venerate the relic. At his parish, Gregorian chant music will be playing “to set the tone” and as a “reminder that something holy, spiritual is going on,” he says.

At Saints Simon and Jude Parish, Father Martins will concelebrate the 7:00 p.m. Mass, along with the Pastor, Father Michael Gerlach and Father Kenneth Omeke, Parochial Vicar. Father Martins will be the homilist.

At Saint Jude Church and Shrine, Father Martins will concelebrate the 7 p.m. Mass along with the Pastor, Father Anthony Costa.

Fourth Degree members of the Knights of Columbus will be on hand to assist with the events, as well as many parishioners. Devotional items – including prayer cards and books – will be available for purchase.

“There’s a sense of excitement,” Father Weik says about the event.  “People understand this is a big deal.”

Pilgrims will be able to receive an extraordinary Plenary Indulgence issued by Pope Francis for attending this event.

Visitors at both parishes are encouraged to touch the reliquary display case in order to dispose oneself to receiving healing graces. You may also touch objects of devotion – including rosaries, medals, crosses, and wedding bands  to bless them and make them into third-class relics. Pictures of family members and friends to invoke Saint Jude’s intercession are also encouraged

For more information about the veneration of the Saint Jude relic put together by St. Jude Parish, click this link.