Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Shrine of Saint Jude at Saint Michael Church on 9th Street
The Shrine of Saint Jude at Saint Michael Church on 9th Street. Every Tuesday, there are masses at 12:00 PM and 7:15 PM, adoration of the Holy Eucharist throughout the day, and special Novena Prayers to St. Jude and Veneration of a Relic of Saint Jude are conducted after the masses. It is called the Perpetual Novena, which means ever-lasting, and has been going in Jersey City since at least 1930. The statue and the shrine were originally in Saint Lucy church, which is way over north of the Holland Tunnel Entrance by the Hoboken border. The church closed in 1986 (although there is a shelter and soup kitchen that is operated by the Parish still under the Saint Lucy name, and the perpetual novena was moved to its present home near Hamilton Park.
What is a Novena? In Latin, the word means nine, and scholars differ as to why this number has mystical significance—some say it is the number of months Jesus spent in Mary’s womb, others say it’s the number of hours Christ prayed in Gethsemane the night before he was executed. Ancient Jewish Philosophers as well as Vatican Theologians and other religious Scholars uphold the sacredness of the number nine. The tradition is to pray special prayers (or do other religious acts, like receive communion) nine consecutive times. It is usually days, but can be weeks or any other designation.
Saint Jude, was one of the 12 apostles, died a martyr death, and wrote an epistle—the second to last book of the New Testament. He is called Jude Thaddeus, was a cousin of Jesus. He has exactly one line in the Gospels, at the last supper, where he is referred to as Judas (not Iscariot).
He is called the Patron Saint of Lost Causes & Desperate Situations, and believers pray to him as kind of the Saint of last resort. Actually, they don’t pray to him but pray for his “intercession,” which is a real Catholic concept that is dismissed by other denominations of Christians (not to mention Jews and Muslims when it comes to the practices of prayer).
In 1548, Pope Paul III, granted a plenary indulgence to all who visited St. Jude’s Tomb in the Vatican. According to some scholars, this edict indicates that a thriving devotion to St. Jude most likely existed for centuries before then. Records show that in 1153, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, requested that a relic of St. Jude be placed on his chest and buried with him. The Tuesday night devotion to St. Jude is not only more than half a century old in Jersey City, but it is a tradition more than 500 years old.
Devotions to Jude crosses all Catholic nationalities. There are shrines and churches dedicated to Saint Jude in nearly every country in the world, including Italy, India, the Philippines and throughout Latin America. In thousand of churches, millions of Catholics every week pray for intercession from Saint Jude. He’s not “owned” by one ethnic group or culture, which is really uncommon. Devotions for most Catholic icons—for example Our Lady of Guadalupe (Hispanics), Saint Rocco (Italian) and Saint Patrick (Irish)—are mainly popular with specific nationalities. Saint Jude attracts devotions throughout the world, and by all accounts, these devotions rose up from the parishinors, they were not mandated by Clerical Authorities.
The Feast Day of Saint Jude is October 28th. On Monday (10/20), was the first day of the annual Novena to Saint Jude, culminating in the feast day Mass on October 18th. It’s a tradition in Jersey City, has been going on since at least the Great Depression (and probably in a less organized fashion for years before then).