Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 23, 2006
Brilliant colours embellish mural
Quebec Oblates established this Texas church in 1934
Saint – St. Jude – October 28
- WCR photo by Ted Fitzgerald
St. Jude Church in San Antonio, Texas, sports a colourful portrait of this favoured saint.
By TED FITZGERALD
Special to the WCR
San Antonio, Texas
Most are familiar with the apostle Jude, patron of lost causes whose colourful shrine in South Texas is a delight to visit.
Many churches feature sombre statues of their namesakes on the front lawn or tastefully occupying a niche high above the front entranceway but here, in westside San Antonio, the popular saint's image, larger than life and in brilliant colour, covers half the eastern exterior wall of the parish church dedicated to this very early Christian.
Can't be missed
Approaching from downtown on Commerce St. W, his church can't be missed. Its painted wall faces north-easterly onto Gen. McMullen St. and directly at travellers heading west.
According to the Scriptures, Jude was the brother of fellow apostle James the lesser and a relative of Jesus. He is believed to have travelled extensively in the Mideast, sometimes with Simon, preaching and converting people to the new Christian religion. Jude was martyred at an uncertain location and his tomb is beneath St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
In art, the saint is often portrayed wearing a large medal that bears the life-size face of Christ in profile. It commemorates an occasion when Jesus imprinted his image onto a piece of cloth before giving it to Jude to deliver to the King of Edessa who was then miraculously cured of leprosy.
Saint of hopeless causes
It's not clear when or why St. Jude acquired his reputation for obtaining relief for hopeless causes. He tended to be largely ignored in early Church writings, probably because of his name's similarity to that of Judas. Now, many churches and chapels are dedicated to him, his statue often surrounded by written requests, notes of thanks or ex votos.
Familiar to many are also the notes addressed to the saint that appear as notices in the St. Jude's Corner of the local press acknowledging favours received as a result of prayers, petitions and novenas addressed to Jude.
Visitors fortunate enough to encounter hospitable Pastoral Assistant Ruben Alvarado will tap a rich source of information on the church and its short but crowded history as focal point of an active parish of 2,000 families.
The church was established in 1934 by Oblates of Mary Immaculate who have maintained a strong presence in South Texas since their arrival in Brownsville from Quebec in 1849, continuing the work of their founder, St. Eugene de Mazenod.
This very modern church is cross-shaped in plan view with the larger and broader axis east-west. Bright green gabled roofs contrast with the soft beige brick of the walls and adjacent bell tower. The east end of the cross displays two angled sections, the northern one exhibiting the painting of the saint.
Place of serenity
The attractive church interior is bright, quiet and conducive to meditation, with seating arranged in an interrupted semi-circle around the north-facing altar. The sanctuary, dominated by a large crucifix, occupies the narrow south arm of the building, opposite the north-facing main entrance.
Shrines on the west and east sides of the church are dedicated to the Sacred Heart and Our Lady of Guadalupe with the main focus for supplicants being that honouring St. Jude.
He's portrayed here, life-size, clad in brown robes, his left hand on a club, the agent of his martyrdom while his right holds the traditional large medallion. The statue is surrounded by flowers and fronted by a rack of votive candles.
After paying obeisance, some will leave their prayers and petitions with the saint and fulfill more immediate lesser needs with a stop at nearby locally acclaimed and reasonable Restaurant EI 7 Mares for seafood in an airy, sunlit dining room. This too is an often unappreciated blessing from on high.