Shrine of St. Jude: Patron Saint of Hopeless Cases

by Seana Miracle

Located inside St. Dominic’s church in San Francisco, is a shrine that contains a holy relic of St. Jude of Thaddeus, the patron saint of hopeless cases and impossible dreams.


St. Jude was one of the twelve apostles and a relative of Jesus. St. Jude is depicted carrying an image of Jesus on his chest because Jesus once pressed his face into a cloth and gave it to St. Jude, who used it to perform many healing miracles. St. Jude continues to work wonders today, as evidenced by the numerous and varied┬átestimonials in the shrine’s newsletter.


One of the most well known stories of St. Jude’s divine intercession, and one that effects us all, is the story of entertainer Danny Thomas.

Danny Thomas was struggling to put food on the table for his wife and children. He was all out of money and resources, and work was not easy to come by. At his wits end he went to the shrine of St. Jude, (in Detroit) patron saint of those in desperate circumstances. He prayed fervently for St. Jude to give him a sign. He vowed that if St. Jude would but give him direction, he would build a shrine in his honor.


“It was like a miracle the way it happened. You believe in miracles, don’t you?”

– Danny Thomas

Danny Thomas gave St. Jude seven of his last ten dollars, knowing he would need ten times that amount just to make rent. Within the week he was offered a job that paid 75 dollars, and it was just the sign he was looking for. Danny Thomas went on to become one of the most popular and hard working entertainers of his time, and would leverage his celebrity status in the name of St. Jude, founding the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in 1960. Since it’s inception, St. Jude hospital has increased childhood cancer survival rates from 20% to 80%. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food, so they can focus on taking care of their child. At every St. Jude Hospital around the country is a shrine to St. Jude, the fulfillment of a promise made long ago.


At the shrine at St. Dominic’s Catholic Church, you can be personally blessed by the relic of St. Jude following the weekly mass. You can also buy vials of sacramental oil that have been blessed by the relic for about five dollars, or purchase a candle that will burn in front of the altar for three days. If your situation is particularly dire, you can request a novena, which last nine days and are held seven times annually. If you cannot make it to the shrine in person, you can purchase oil, candles, blessings, masses and novenas online.

Every year, in late October, the Dominican brothers in formation participate in a novena and pilgrimage in honor of St. Jude of Thaddeus that ends with a large procession from a neighboring church to St. Dominic’s. Pilgrims carry images and statues of St. Jude, many prayers are said along the way and they arrive at the Shrine of St. Jude just in time for Mass, after which everyone is personally blessed by the holy relic of St. Jude.

Watching this holy pilgrimage and procession is what inspired Van Morrisson to write the song “St. Dominic’s Preview.”

“Meanwhile back in San Francisco
We’re trying hard to make this whole thing blend
As we sit upon this jagged
Storied block, with you my friend…”

-Van Morrisson, “St. Dominic’s Preview”