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A piece of bone from the arm of St. Jude drew hundreds of believers to Aquinas Institute of Theology last week, where they paused to touch or kiss the reliquary containing the bones and ask God through the intercession of St. Jude to heal them.

The Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus, based in Chicago, held the Mass and healing service in cooperation with Aquinas Institute of Theology. The Dominican order of priests and vowed religious sponsor both the school and shrine.

“It was remarkable to witness the deep faith in God’s healing power expressed by so many through this event,” said Fr. Charles Bouchard, O.P., president of Aquinas Institute. “So many who came to the Mass clearly brought their pains, their sufferings, and they brought the hope that can come only from faith.”

After Mass, the crowd of worshippers, many of whom participated in Mass from outside the open chapel doors, stayed to spend seconds near the relic and pray. They also shared with lay ministers in the chapel a prayer petition and then received a blessing with St. Jude oil.

“It was a blessing for me to see how moved people were as they walked away from the chapel,” said David Stocker, a student at Aquinas Institute who coordinates liturgies. “They were weeping. You could tell the Spirit was moving, and I got caught up in that.”

Earlier that day, faculty members, students and guests from Saint Louis University gathered for a discussion on how popular Catholicism, or traditions such as praying novenas, venerating relics or praying in the company of statues of saints, relates to the larger Catholic Church and to liturgy.

Sr. Catherine Vincie, RSHM, associate professor of sacramental and liturgical theology, characterized popular Catholicism as something that should “both come from the liturgy and return to the liturgy.”

“It is a Spirit-driven affair that comes from cultural experience and liturgical tradition,” she said. However, such practice is not without worries. Vincie said it can become problematic if a devotional practice becomes excessive, or becomes more important than devotion to Christ. She noted as well that these practices lack content in Scripture and can become utilitarian, or “magic.”

Find out more about the shrine of St. Jude in Chicago by clicking here.

Read an article about the event in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch by clicking here


Fr. Jim Spahn, O.P., director of the Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus in Chicago, holds the relic of St. Jude while worshipers pause and venerate the relic.

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