By Joan D. Warren
EAST SANDWICH — Before the altar at Corpus Christi Parish, a glass box on a pedestal was featured during a special Mass on November 11. Following the service, more than 250 patiently waited for their chance to touch, pray and experience the transforming presence of the relic of St. Jude the Apostle.
The relic, part of the arm of the saint, was separated from the greater portion of his remains several centuries ago and placed in a simple wooden reliquary carved in the shape of an upright arm in the gesture of imparting a blessing.
One of the Church’s most beloved saints, St. Jude is the one to whom Catholics traditionally turn when they are desperate and have tried everything else. When things seem lost or unbearable, St. Jude’s intercession can provide hope. He is known as the Apostle of the Impossible.
The relic is on a tour of the United States and transported by Father Carlos Martins, CC, Director of Treasures of the Church. This is the first time in 500 years that the relic has left its home in Rome. It is housed in a shrine within the Chiesa di San Salvatore in Lauro, a magnificent Roman church close to St. Peter’s Basilica.
Although no count has been officially taken, thousands of visitors have viewed the relic at each parish on the current tour.
Corpus Christi parish was the only stop in the Diocese of Fall River.
Pastor Father Jack Schrader said the parish was chosen since Father Martins visited a few years ago on a different relic tour.
“We were honored at Corpus Christi Parish to host the relic of St. Jude the Apostle, a man who walked with Jesus during His ministry and witnessed the Resurrection. Our parish staff, music ministry and nearly 50 volunteers rose to the occasion to provide a moving encounter with the power of God on November 11. I am grateful to the visiting priests who helped ensure that the Sacrament of Confession was available to everyone who came through the doors on that day,” Father Schrader said.
Mary Eplett, 90, attended the veneration with her daughter Deverie Barrera, a parishioner at Corpus Christi.
As a former teacher, she recalled a third-grade student in her class who died from leukemia. Although his death was many years ago, she still prays for him and other children battling cancer.
“It is a special joy to be here. I prayed for children with cancer and for my children and grandchildren,” she said.
St. Jude was one of Christ’s most intimate collaborators, one of the 12 Apostles. Jude was a first cousin of Jesus (Jude’s mother Mary, wife of Clopus, is the Blessed Mother’s sister).
In his homily, Father Martins said that the relic of St. Jude is significant due to the saint’s relationship with Jesus.
“St. Jude was an Apostle but also family. This is how close we are to Jesus at this moment in time,” Father Martins said.
Baskets were placed throughout the church for donations and books, medals and other mementos were on sale in the vestibule of the church. Donations made at the veneration will be used for the restoration of the shrine that houses the relic.
The dome of Chiesa di San Salvatore in Lauro has sustained damage from lightning strikes and storms and badly needs repair.
Most of St. Jude’s relics are located below the altar of St. Joseph in the Basilica of St. Peter’s in the Vatican, within a tomb also holding the remains of the Apostle Simon. This resting place has become a popular destination for pilgrims who have a devotion to the Apostle of the Impossible.
For more information on the life and ministry of St. Jude, go to: apostleoftheimpossible.com.