I was free yesterday, Sunday, from having to be at the conference. I had planned to see the sites and set out after breakfast to go to Mass. The Google Maps app said that St Jude’s shrine was near walking distance. So I went off for a nice walk. It was a gorgeous day, and the sun was out. I found St Jude’s Shrine and saw it was a small entrance where a few people were going through. Mass would not be for another hour, so I went into the gift shop. I heard a familiar language being spoken, and turned around to see a couple of Filipina women at the cash register by the door. They saw me and I waved. New friends! I circled about looking at different items, and finally settled on a small statue of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Then I wanted to get something else – and found this green bracelet that had St Jude’s medals. Sold! It was very appropriate to find yet a priest, from Africa, hanging around and so I approached him to ask him to bless them. He did so with alacrity, and said a wonderful prayer for me, my family and friends, and then he traced a cross on my forehead.
I went upstairs to the Shrine, and where the chapel was – it was a bigger sized chapel, and was formed in a round configuration. The Shrine itself was in a side alcove, where many pilgrims were. I stood off to one side, prayed for my intentions, and then went back to the chapel. A rosary was being started so I joined in. While the rosary was being prayed, a trickle of people started coming in to fill the pews. The trickle became heavy, and finally the chapel was packed. It was amazing. The lady next to me said it was actually St Jude’s feast day! And busloads of pilgrims were coming to pray and help celebrate the Mass. A beautiful chance that I happened on. It made me feel quite misty eyed.
I think that chances like this must always be seen as a gift from God. It tells of His love for people, His wish for people to want to love him back, and His wish to shower graces upon them. One more thing I learned is that St Jude Thaddeus was a cousin of Jesus. St Jude’s dad Cleophas was the brother of St Joseph. I learned a lot yesterday. And the little walking tour became a pilgrimage.