About St. Jude's Shrine

The devotion to St. Jude Thaddaeus, was practically unknown in India, and it was the late Bishop F. X. Fenech who started it in Jhansi, which was a Prefecture Apostolic in those days. It was not easy to do especially during the World War II, but Bishop Fenech was a man of great faith, he made a promise to St. Jude that if he helped him, he would build a Shrine in Jhansi in his honour. He made use of the media available, publishing his intention in the Catholic Herald of England, in the Indian Catholic Newspaper - The Examiner and so on.

This devotion began to grow and expand like fire. Bishop Fenech, appointed Brother Seraphim, a very pious and serious religious to take care of the incoming correspondence and advertisements. This Brother placed all his time to spread the devotion, through pious advice, prayers and literature. He dedicated 30 years of his life to this work, and he used to work at night-time especially during the time of the Annual Novena. Brother Seraphim could tell from the address written on the envelope whose letter it was. While the devotion was growing and the offerings saved for the building, there was one major problem. Where was St. Jude's Shrine to be built? For many years there wasn't even a small chapel where his devotees could go and pray. Finally in 1947 a temporary chapel was built. This was dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, and a statue of St. Jude was purchased and installed on the side altar. In 1946 a group of Maltese missionaries arrived in Jhansi to help in the missionary work. Bishop Fenech, appointed Rev. Canon John Metcalf as Procurator and Promoter of the newly established devotion. After four years, Father Publius Cassar was appointed as Parish Priest of the Sacred Heart Church and Procurator. So he started to use the newly built chapel for St. Jude's devotion. For convenience sake, he placed St. Jude's statue instead of the statue of Our Lady and beautified the main altar and the sanctuary, installed neon lights around the niche of St. Jude, with the words, "St. Jude Pray For Us."

Bishop Fenech procured many thousands of one-foot size pictures of St. Jude, which within few years were all disposed off. Father Publius started to organize the devotion. He compiled the small booklet of St. Jude, wrote the prayers which are said during the annual Novena; changed the name of the parish bulletin from "The Voice of the Shepherd to that of St. Jude," and began to celebrate the feast of the saint, by nine days' preparation called Novena, which consisted of morning Mass, praying of the Rosary, the Novena Prayers, followed by the Sacramental Benediction in the evening since evening Mass was not allowed then, we used to sing the Hymn to St. Jude, "Apostle of Jesus" and then the kissing of the Relic. Printed Petition forms were introduced and sent to devotees. Mass in the morning was also celebrated. On October 28, St. Jude's Feast day, a Solemn High Mass was celebrated with beautiful Latin tunes, the main celebrant, deacon, and acolytes after the singing of the Gospel, the celebrant used to preach a Homily. A big meal was served to the poor who used to gather under the verandah of the new building. In the evening, the military band entertained the big crowd, with their drill and marches preceding the evening procession with the Relic of St. Jude followed by Sacramental Benediction and prayers for the sick. Hindus and Non-Catholics came to witness this annual event drawn also by the beautiful fire works display. This used to thrill and make so many people happy. That was the humble beginning of St. Jude's devotion in Jhansi.

As time and years went on, the need to build a proper shrine was ever growing. The temporary chapel was too small to accommodate the people who used to come for this devotion. There were enough funds to build the Shrine. The problem always arose but where to build it?

The military authorities would not allow another church to be built in the same locality, but it seemed that St. Jude wanted to remain in that area. Fortunately it was the last plot touching civil lines. Through the efforts of Mrs. M. Godinho, Mr. Simon Vaz and his sister Mary, a big plot of land was purchased touching the plot, so it was possible to remain in the same area, and the Shrine to be built on the new plot. Truly St. Jude is the Patron Saint of the Impossible.

Now it is 35 years, since the Shrine dedicated to him was built. Good Bishop Fenech saw his dream of Faith rewarded and now from heaven he continues to bless his former diocese, which with the continued efforts of his successors, Bishop J. B. Mudhartha, and now present beloved Bishop Frederick D'Souza is growing. There are quite a few institutions dedicated to him such as St. Jude's Hospital, St. Jude's Foundling Home, St. Jude's Vocational Training Centre and St. Jude's High School at Premnagar. These are the best gifts of St. Jude to the diocese, besides a good number of diocesan priests, religious sisters and brothers. Fr. Publius Cassar