Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Arm of St. Jude, ‘Apostle of the Impossible,’ Draws Thousands for Veneration at Holy Name of Jesus

A relic of the patron saint of hopeless causes and desperate situations drew more than 2,200 people to Holy Name of Jesus Church in Harrisburg on Monday, November 6 for veneration, prayer and Holy Mass during a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be in the presence of the bones of one of the Twelve Apostles.

For the first time in its history, the Arm of St. Jude is traveling outside of Italy, and is visiting 100 parishes throughout the United States from September 2023 to May 2024.

The scores of people who lined up to venerate and pray in the presence of the relic at Holy Name bespoke their devotion to St. Jude and their deep desire to seek his intercession for the challenges and struggles they’re facing. From the start of veneration at 1 p.m. until its closing at 10 p.m., the line to venerate the relic weaved through the church, often spilling out to its front portico and along its walkways. The line was halted just once – for the celebration of Holy Mass by Bishop Timothy Senior at 7 p.m. for a congregation of faithful that nearly filled the 1,400-seat church to capacity.

Bishop Senior told the congregation that “St. Jude is not just our friend in desperate situations, he is also our companion as we seek to be more faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.”

Father Carlos Martins, custodian of the Arm of St. Jude, was the homilist for the Mass, which was concelebrated by a number of priests of the Diocese.

“It is not mere bones that you’re coming to greet; all of St. Jude is here,” Father Martins told the congregation, as he gestured to the relic: bones of the apostle, encased in a reliquary in the shape of an arm imparting a blessing. A glass case surrounded the arm during the period of public veneration. One by one, visitors came forward to say a brief prayer, touch the glass, or place an item against it. Many pressed a prayer card, a Rosary, a medal or a picture to the glass as they offered their intentions.

Among the visitors were Darrell and Mary Holcombe of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Quarryville, who came to pray for their son-in-law, Mike, who is battling leukemia.

“While we were waiting in line to see the relic, I prayed for my son-in-law. When we got up to it, I held his picture to the glass. We’re praying for a miracle,” Maryann told The Witness.

“I was thinking of Mike, of course, as well as others who are in our parish who have ailments. I wanted to offer a prayer that something good would also come to them,” Darrell said.

Darrell’s visit to see the relic with his wife was the second of the day; he had been their earlier with their daughter, Mike’s wife, Desiree. So moved by seeing the Arm of St. Jude and the devotion of so many others when he accompanied his daughter, Darrell drove back to Quarryville and picked up his wife for veneration in the evening.

“When you look around and see the large number of folks who are also here, you count your blessings,” he said. “Seeing so many people here, praying for various needs, it also shows you just how we’re all struggling with something. You never know what someone else is going through.”

The Gospels reveal little about St. Jude, who was selected by Jesus as one of the Twelve Apostles. He was the son of Mary of Cleopas, a relative of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was one of the “three Marys” who stood by Jesus during His Crucifixion.

St. Jude, also called St. Jude Thaddeus, evangelized in Judea, Mesopotamia and Persia. He was martyred for the faith sometime near 65 AD, beaten with a club or ax, and his body was buried in the city of Beirut. Sometime after his death, his remains were transferred to Rome during the time of Emperor Constantine. His tomb rests directly below the main altar of Saint Joseph in the left transept of St. Peter’s Basilica.

The visit of the Arm of St. Jude, the first in its history, is part of a national tour, Apostle of the Impossible: The Tour of the Relics of St. Jude the Apostle, sponsored by Treasures of the Church. Father Martins is the Director of the Treasures of the Church, which uses the relics of saints as a means of evangelization.

Father Edward Quinlan, pastor of Holy Name of Jesus Church, told The Witness that the suggestion to host the Arm of St. Jude came from Father John Szada, the Diocesan Exorcist, who is a friend of Father Martins. As Father Martins was seeking a church in the midstate to host the relic, Father Szada suggested Holy Name.

Hosting and venerating the relic was a blessing, Father Quinlan said.

“I kept thinking, leading up to it and through the event, of how blessed we are to pray that we are one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church, and to realize the deep connection to those men chosen by Jesus to be the foundations of His Church,” he said. “It’s not just an historical trivia question; it really is the essence of the very nature of the Church. Jesus picked these men to be the foundation of the church. We realize, through Sacred Scripture, that these men really kept the mission of Jesus going and set it on an absolutely secure foundation to last all generations.”

“The Church is so extraordinarily rich in all the gifts and graces, and they just keep coming,” Father Quinlan said.

“St. Jude’s life is a reminder that God has great plans for us. He has great plans for you,” Father Martins said in his homily. “Give God your yes. After every time you fall, give God your yes. The mark of sainthood is not never sinning. The mark of sainthood is giving Jesus your yes.”

“If you take nothing else with you from this experience today, make sure you take home St. Jude as your friend. You will never, ever regret it,” he said.

The relic will be making many stops throughout the United States through May of 2024. More information on this national tour can be found at https://apostleoftheimpossible.com.

(Photos by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)

By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness

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