Relic of St. Jude visits Naples Parish

A nationwide pilgrimage of a unique first-class relic of St. Jude Thaddeus – patron saint of lost causes and desperate situations – visited the Diocese of Venice on Feb. 27, 2024.

The relic – the forearm of St. Jude, encased in a wooden reliquary carved into the shape of an upright arm imposing a blessing – was on display at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Naples. This ancient relic of St. Jude – often called the “Apostle of the Impossible” – is currently traveling in the U.S. for the first time. The tour started in Sept. 2023 and concludes in May 2024. Making stops in 100 cities, its mission is to bring comfort and hope to those in need.

Fourth through eighth-grade students from St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School were given the privilege of being the first to be in the presence of the relic. Displays noting the history of St. Jude and of the relic, were placed at the back of the church as each students awaited their turn to approach the display case. Fourth grade teachers used the opportunity to take have a mini retreat for the students, doing a deeper dive into the life of St. Jude, the apostles, and of relics of saints in general.

Father Casey Jones, Pastor of St. Elizabeth Seton, said it was a privilege to have the relic at the Parish. He was afforded the opportunity to touch the relic to a statue of St. Jude on the east side of the church. “This was a great honor to be able to handle the reliquary. This is allowed only in this special circumstance.”

Father Jones was unsure of whether people would participate in the visitation, but before the official public display began at 2 p.m., more than 100 were waiting patiently by the front doors and the line never diminished throughout the afternoon and into the evening. Confessionals were open prior to a 7 p.m. Mass. The display visit concluded at 10 p.m. The Fourth Degree members of the Knights of Columbus stood as an honor guard throughout the display of the relic.

As the faithful proceeded forward, some paused while others knelt before the relic, pressing their hand to the case, or touching a rosary or other religious article to the case.

Catherine Jackson of Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers said she was near tears being so close to the relic. “St. Jude was someone who knew Jesus personally. And to be that close to even a part of that person is incredible. I feel so blessed.”

The nationwide tour of the St. Jude relic was presented by Treasures of the Church, a traveling ministry of evangelization that brings a host of relics to various Catholic churches nationwide. Father Carlos Martins, Director of Treasures of the Church, is accompanying the St. Jude relic on the tour. Treasures of the Church is a Vatican-sponsored ministry utilizing the saints’ relics which has visited the Diocese of Venice in the past with groupings of relics of more than 150.

Father Jones and Father Martins concelebrated a Mass in honor of the visiting relic at 7 p.m.  Father Martins, a priest of the Companions of the Cross, was the homilist and spoke of St. Jude’s close family relationship to Jesus, and his missionary work as an apostle.

Speaking to a packed church filled with diverse pilgrims, Father Martins described how St. Jude was Jesus’s first cousin, whose mother, Mary of Cleophas, was a sister of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He told the congregation that the relic was actually bones from the arm of St. Jude, documenting how and where the saint died and that he was buried where he was martyred with his body undisturbed, due to Roman law and superstition.

St. Jude suffered martyrdom in Beruit during the first century together with another Apostle, St. Simon the Zealot, with whom he is usually connected. St. Jude’s body was transferred from Beirut to Rome during the time of Emperor Constantine and placed in a crypt within St. Peter’s Basilica. His remains are under the main altar of St. Joseph, in a tomb along with those of St. Simon. The arm was removed from Saint Jude’s tomb centuries ago and placed into the reliquary. Its permanent residence is the Church of San Salvatore in Lauro, in central Rome.

Pilgrims were able to receive an extraordinary Plenary Indulgence issued by Pope Francis for attending this event.

The tour of the relic continues with additional stops in Florida before going on to Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Texas.