Letters to St Jude
In Whitefriar Street church in Dublin, people write poignant messages about their health, their families and their finances to the patron saint of lost causes
“Please St Jude help my daughter she is so depressed and hopes to get the job in dublin please grant that she get the job and feel better in herself Please St Jude grant my request a very upset mum.”
Employees do not emerge from this book of prayers entirely spotless. “I’m in trouble again in my job,” says the writer of the first prayer at the top of this article. “I’m in danger of being dismissed.” Which, it now seems likely, they were.
Sometimes St Jude must read between the lines to glimpse a trauma, as in this prayer: “Saint Jude please help my son get a job and that in future he may be interviewed [by people] who are [empathetic or enthusiastic, this is hard to read] re him.”
The fact that these prayers are written down is part of the devotion; the public declaration of them is intended as an encouragement to others and a request for their prayers in turn, says Fr McKay.
The language here is sometimes remarkable; an emotional shorthand for the most complex problems that affect us. One writer, in a long litany of requests for everyone in their family, suddenly asks for help with “my drink-health-loneliness”.
In fact the combination of requests for the supplicant, no matter how wretched, and for humanity in general, occurs regularly: “St Jude help me with my troble in this wourld. Help me to help other people I am gay and lonely at times help me.”
The men write just as emotionally as the women: “Dear St Jude Please help me to bring my girlfriend [name given] back i never meant to annoy her just trying to be good. I miss her a lot she’s all I ever had in my life i would be greatful for your help. As i still love her. Dominic”
And sometimes St Jude is just asked to deal with daily life: “St Jude please give me a lucky break soon and give me health and keep me wife and kids safe and healthy. Tank you St Jude.”
The feast of St Jude is on Monday, October 28th