Claretian priest and pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Chicago, Father James Tort, founded the National Shrine of St. Jude in 1929 at his church. Father Tort had been sent there by the Claretians to organize the construction of the church for a parish in need of hope and support.
Father Tort had a strong devotion to St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of hope and hopeless or difficult causes, who was relatively unknown to the general Catholic population at that time. Night after night, he asked St. Jude for his intercession to help the workers of the parish, many of whom were laborers in the nearby steel mills, which were drastically cutting back their workforce at this time. To lift the spirits of his parishioners, Father Tort began regular devotions to St. Jude, including the first Solemn Novena, which was held on February 17, 1929.
The congregation at Our Lady of Guadalupe showed such great response to the devotion to St. Jude that an overflow crowd attended services on the final night of a Solemn Novena that ended on the Feast of St. Jude, October 28, 1929. More than 1,000 people stood outside the church to hear the service. Word of the devotions to St. Jude gradually spread from that tiny corner of Chicago to other parts of the country. During the Great Depression and World War II, thousands attended novenas at the National Shrine, and the devotion to the Patron of Hope grew throughout the country.
The National Shrine of St. Jude and the St. Jude League bring together millions of devotees in a community of prayer and hope. The faithful around the world send the Claretians their special intentions and stories of hope. The St. Jude League provides a path for letters of petition and of gratitude to be delivered directly to the altar of St. Jude at the National Shrine. Each week, we place the people’s intentions at the altar of St. Jude and pray for their petitions in our Masses.
They also flock to Solemn Novenas to St. Jude, which take place five times each year at the Shrine at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.