Among the Twelve Apostles, St Jude has often been neglected – partly because we don’t know much about him, partly because people get him mixed up with Judas Iscariot.
But many Catholics are indebted to Jude, traditionally the Patron Saint of Lost Causes (or “of the Impossible”). And in Britain, his devotees make their way to the National Shrine at Faversham, which is attached to a Carmelite church. Many visitors are non-Catholic or even non-Christian, according to development manager Matt Betts.
For the last six months, however, pilgrims have had to squeeze into a smaller space. In May, a storm caused extensive damage to the church’s suspended ceiling, and the lime render has to be completely removed and replaced. The shrine itself remains open, but Mass takes place in the Infant of Prague chapel on weekdays, and in the welcome centre on weekends.
“People are very understanding,” Betts says. At the feast celebrations, the place was so full that, instead of the usual two Masses, they had to make room for a third in the candle tent.
The church itself, to which the shrine was added in 1955, has a couple of noteworthy features: the murals in the sanctuary are by Edward Ardizzone, better-known as an illustrator and author of such children’s classics as Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain.
The shrine is still appealing for funds. If all goes well, it should be back open for Christmas. Fr Kevin Alban, the Prior Provincial, said: “The pilgrims and parish have rallied round magnificently in the meantime adapting to the difficult circumstances and are actively involved in the work of repair.”
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