by Kurt Jensen
CHICAGO (OSV News) — St. Jude may be best known in the United States for being the patron saint of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, a cancer treatment center founded by Lebanese-American entertainer Danny Thomas.
Thomas credited St. Jude — also well known among Catholics as the patron saint of hopeless causes and desperate situations — with reviving his career during a particularly low moment. He founded the hospital in gratitude.
Now more Catholics are going to learn about this faithful apostle, martyr and saint as his relic — bone fragments from an arm believed to be his — leaves Italy for the first time, sponsored by Treasures of the Church, for a tour that extends into 2024.
The tour began in Chicago Sept. 9 at St. John Cantius Church. There are to be 100 stops in all. The relic will be made available for public veneration beginning at 1 p.m. on Oct. 2 at St. Michael the Archangel Church in Leawood.
As the church-appointed custodian of the relic, Father Carlos Martins, a priest of the Companions of the Cross religious community, is directing the tour.
“The visit provides an opportunity for individuals to experience intimacy with someone who dwells in heaven and beholds God face-to-face. It allows devotees to receive his blessing and entrust him with their petitions,” Father Carlos said, according to a press release.
St. Jude Thaddeus was a first cousin of Jesus Christ — the son of Mary of Clopas (Cleophas), a relation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Along with St. Bartholomew, he is one of the patron saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The last Jewish bishop of Jerusalem, Judah Kyriakos, was the great-grandson of St. Jude.
Following his martyrdom around the year 65, when St. Jude was killed with an ax, his body was buried in Beirut, where he was slain. According to tradition, the apostle’s remains were transferred to Rome during the reign of the Roman emperor Constantine, and his tomb rests directly below the main altar of the left transept of St. Peter’s Basilica.
The arm was separated from St. Jude’s remains several centuries ago and placed in a wooden reliquary carved in the shape of an upright arm in the gesture of imparting a blessing. It bears the seals of Cardinal Francesco Marchetti Selvaggiani, who was vicar general of Rome from 1931 to 1951.
According to the Treasures of the Church press release, pilgrims will be able to receive an extraordinary plenary indulgence issued by Pope Francis and published by the Vatican’s apostolic penitentiary.