Hey Heidi: What's the history behind The Shrine of St. Joseph?

11:31 AM, Oct 3, 2013   |    comments
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  • Click here to learn more about the Shrine of St. Joseph.
  • ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - In the shadows of the federal courthouse, tucked away on 11th Street, is a church with stories as beautiful as its ornate interior.

    "The original components of this church were built in 1844," said Jim Allen, a board member and volunteer at The Shrine of St. Joseph.

    It was built by and for German immigrants and the structure you see today was expanded in 1866.

    "These are the original pews from 1866," Allen said.

    But it was something that happened in 1864 that put the Shrine of St. Joseph on the map.

    "A Jesuit missionary came through St. Louis with a relic of blessed Peter Claver. He said other places he had this relic people who had been sick had become healed," Allen said.

    So one Sunday this man, Ignatius Strecker, who had been injured at work, diagnosed with tuberculosis and said to be terminally ill was carried in on stretcher.

    "And in his own words Ignatius Strecker said when he kissed the relic of St. Peter Claver he felt a surge of energy in his body and he was able to stand up and walk home," Allen said.

    He ended up living another 15 years.

    "The doctors couldn't explain how he became healed, the church investigated and deemed it to be a true miracle," Allen said.

    The relic is still kept at the church and taken out every Sunday after mass. As a matter of fact, there's been a mass here every Sunday since 1844. Of course, it hasn't always looked like this.

    "They say in the 1970's there were more birds flying around in church here than parishioners in the pews," Allen said.

    Actually it was almost torn down in the 70's, but a group known as 'the Friends of the Shrine' offered to take it off the archdiocese hands and restore it to what you see today: A beautiful church that is on the National Register of Historic Places.


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