Below is the most recent multimedia slideshow posted to the St. Louis Review website. At the bottom of this page is a list of older slideshows.
Miraculous is a word often tossed around lightly, but in the case of Ignatius Strecker, a German immigrant living in St. Louis in the mid 19th century, the word has the weight of Vatican authentication.
Strecker's cure of injury and illness was accepted as a miracle for the canonization cause of St. Peter Claver, a 17th-century Spanish Jesuit who ministered to black slaves. The miracle occurred 150 years ago at what is now the Shrine of St. Joseph in north St. Louis. The shrine is planning to mark the anniversary with a Mass on March 16.
According to notes from the old parish, Strecker came to America from Germany in 1853 and settled in St. Joseph Parish, just north of Downtown. Strecker was devoted to his faith, his wife and his nine children. He was seriously injured in 1861 when he accidentally struck his chest sharply against a pointed piece of iron at a soap factory where he worked. The blow damaged his breastbone and caused great pain, a burning sensation and swelling. A tumor-like inflammation began to grow, and he developed symptoms of tuberculosis. Fever set in, breathing became difficult and he couldn't eat. He stayed in bed and prepared to die.
A parish missionary, Jesuit Father Francis Xavier Weninger, gave a sermon at St. Joseph on Peter Claver's intercessory power with God. After the sermon, he blessed the people with a relic of Peter Claver.
Strecker's wife went home and begged her husband to ask Peter Claver to intervene with God for a cure of his fatal condition. He had never heard of Peter Claver, but he began to ask for Peter Claver's help. "The next day, with the last ounce of his strength, he literally dragged himself to St. Joseph's Church and came in just as Father Weninger was blessing the sick with the relic," a parish history recounts. "With sincere faith and strong confidence he placed himself in the line of the sick. Father Weninger blessed him and allowed him to kiss the relic."
Soon the sore began to disappear. The breastbone and ribs healed rapidly and the tuberculosis disappeared -- all within a week or two. The day after the blessing, Strecker returned to work.
His doctors recognized the cure, and there was never any relapse. Strecker died on June 4, 1880 -- 20 years after the miraculous cure -- of typhoid fever unrelated to his previous illnesses. The miracle was authenticated by the Vatican in 1887 and St. Peter Claver was canonized in 1888.
Restoring history, restoring faith
St. Joseph Parish was founded by the Jesuits in 1844 and was run by the order for 123 years. When the church was in decline and in danger of being razed in the 1970s, a lay group mobilized a grass-roots effort to restore the church back to its former glory.
Labor union members, some Catholic and some not, have been a big part of the restoration. An architect, Ted Wofford, has been one of the volunteers. Especially when renovation was initiated, people of all faiths came to support it, including a Jewish man who grew up in the neighborhood and donated $100,000.
Father Dale Wunderlich, rector of the shrine, said the church is now a place of pilgrimage. "We're highlighting one particular miracle, but it's really remarkable what happens here in this church," he said. People come to the parish to be prayed over because they're very sick and for other reasons. "We don't control the Holy Spirit, but there's also no stifling of the Holy Spirit," the priest said.
Those who come through the front door of the church are people "of tremendous faith and incredible hope and share with the volunteers a tremendous amount of love," he said.
What really applies, he said, are Jesus' words that "Your faith has saved you." The shrine, he added, is "a remarkably visible sacramental about what our faith is really about."
He called the volunteers at the shrine "a very hospitable, welcoming group, which also is the foundation of our Christian faith."
Faith, Father Wunderlich noted, "really can lead to miracles, particularly in an atmosphere here where we have such very loving and hospitable volunteers with the Friends of the Shrine of St. Joseph."
The shrine has some 60 weddings a year and hosts visitors from all over the U.S. and even other countries.
For St. Monica parishioner Jim Crump, 91, the story of the miracle at St. Joseph is a matter of family tradition. He is a great-grandson of Strecker and has five children and six grandchildren who are aware of the miracle and the strength of Strecker's faith. Since he is most familiar with the account, he joked, "my family listens to me a little bit more."
• Noon Mass the first Friday of each month and 11 a.m. Mass each Sunday
• St. Joseph feast day Mass at noon Wednesday, March 19
• Mass on the first Sunday of May for the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, organized by the St. Louis Labor Council. Labor unions have donated much work on the shrine.
• Rummage sale after regular Mass times
• A place of pilgimage, with tours offered after Mass on Sundays or prearranged by calling (314) 231-9407
For information or to donate to the shrine, see www.shrineofstjoseph.org. Donations payable to the Shrine of St. Joseph's Friends Inc., can be sent to 1220 N. 11th St., St. Louis, MO 63106-4614.
WHAT: Mass to commemorate the 150th anniversary of a miraculous cure that took place in the Shrine of St. Joseph on March 16, 1864.
WHEN: 11 a.m. Sunday, March 16
WHERE: The Shrine of St Joseph, 1220 N. 11th St., four blocks from the Edward Jones Dome in Downtown St. Louis
WHO: Concelebrated by Father Dale Wunderlich, the shrine's rector, along with guest presider and homilist Jesuit Father Dan White, pastor of St. Francis Xavier (College Church) Parish in Midtown St. Louis. Groups planning to attend include the Missionary Sisters of St. Peter Claver, School Sisters of Notre Dame, Sicilian Cultural Society, Knights of Peter Claver, members of the St. Louis Labor Council, as well as the descendants and relatives of Ignatius Strecker. Everyone is invited.
More Multimedia Slideshows
|February 26, 2014 Click to view »||February 05, 2014 Click to view »|
|February 05, 2014 Click to view »||January 29, 2014 Click to view »|
|January 19, 2014 Click to view »||October 09, 2013 Click to view »|
- News »
- Papal News
- Religious Liberty
- Living Our Faith »
- Church Teaching »
- Opinion »
- Year of Faith
- Special Sections »