Shrine History: 2000 -

2000 - 2014

In 2004 a fire broke out in the Shrine Chapel destroying the murals which once hung there and damaging much of the other artwork. Happily, the windows and ceramics could be repaired, but the murals had to be replaced.

The decision was made by the Prior Provincial to install icons depicting saints inspired by the Carmelite Rule of Saint Albert, in commemoration of the 8th centenary of the Carmelite Rule in 2007. The icons were written by Sister Petra Clare, a Benedictine hermit living in Scotland.


Sister Petra Clare with one of the icons she had written.
 
The icons depict: Saint Albert giving the Carmelite 'way of life' (Rule document) to Saint Brocard on Mount Carmel; Blessed John Soreth and Blessed Frances d'Amboise; Saint Elias Kuriakos Chavara and Blessed Isidore Bakanja; Saint Titus Brandsma and Saint Edith Stein.
 
Adam Kossowski used acrylic paint for the Rosary Way paintings which were originally commissioned for the Carmelite retreat and pilgrimage centre at Hazlewood House in Yorkshire. They were moved to Faversham when the Carmelites left Hazlewood House in 1996. In 2007, it was noticed that the original artwork was showing signs of damage from being outside in all weathers and it was decided in an attempt to preserve them immediately to put them in storage. Copies were commissioned and Mr Mic Redsell took on this work. His painted copies were put in their place for visitors to enjoy for many years to come.
 
Before 2008, the Shrine was managed by the Shrine Director who had the dual role of chaplain and manager. However, this was changed after 2008 with the management of the site handled by an office manager, and then later the current Development Manager (from 2013). Fr. Piet Wijngaard, O.Carm took on the role as Chaplain to run the spiritual side. The Saint Jude management group was set up in 2012 and has been chaired by a lay person since. Mrs Hazel Colyer (2012 - 2016) and Mr Michael Collins (2016 - onwards). 
 
The Saint Jude Welcome Centre was officially opened in 2009, with a smaller office next door which was used for the sale of books.

In 2007, Friar Beyond the Pale was published, which was a new biography (and still available) on the founder of the Shrine, Fr. Elias Lynch. Through his letters to fellow friars and through his Carmelite newsletter, Fr. Elias Lynch communicated his heart and soul to readers in the English county of Kent, his native Ireland, and throughout the world. The life and insights of Elias Lynch are presented in his own words and through this biography by Fr. Wilfrid McGreal, O.Carm.

 
 
During 2011, the 'Newsletter Office' stopped sending out the newsletter from the office and employed an external company to sort; the machine for all the newsletters remained in the office until autumn 2013 when it was finally sold for parts to a local company.
 
        
 
Finally, the old 'manager's office' was converted into the postroom for opening post and other admin duties and the old cloakroom and staff room were converted with doors added instead of curtains!
 
   
 

2014 - 2021

In 2014, the Guild of Saint Jude was founded. It was set up to foster worship, for members to be able to support and share in the mission of the Carmelite Family by prayer and material resources; and to raise awareness and encourage pilgrimages to the National Shrine. From 2014 - 2015 work started on converting the old 'newsletter office' into the Shrine Information Centre. Up until now, it had been a place for folding and posting out the newsletter (since moved to external printers) with a machine that took up most of the room (see above).

        

In 2015, the Shrine joined the Churches Visitor & Tourism Association, and in 2021 our development manager became a trustee. 

On 26 March 2015 in celebration of the Diamond Jubilee, the Prior General, Fr. Fernando Millán Romeral blessed a new plaque in the Shrine.

The Shrine Information Centre was officially opened later that year by the Most. Rev. Peter Smith, Archbishop of Southwark on 28 October 2015 during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Archbishop Peter Smith looks around the Information Centre with the Development Manager

In January 2016, the Development Manager went to Rome for the Year of Mercy, as outlined in the spring edition of 'Carmelite News':

The strange happening of Saint Jude, Pope Francis and the Year of Mercy
As I write that heading it sounds like the plot from an Agatha Christie story or a Father Brown adventure! As you will be aware, I am sure, this year has been proclaimed by our good Pope Francis to be a ‘Holy Year of Mercy’ when we focus as a whole Church family on the mercy of God – something which Saint Jude specialises in. In the course of this year the Vatican is organising a series of gatherings for those involved in different areas of ministry, to help them reflect on how they can incorporate this message of Mercy into their work. Because our Shrine is a place of pilgrimage, we asked Matt our Development Manager to take part along with two others. They were able to stay with our brothers in Rome.

Matt took with him one of the new statues of our friend Saint Jude which have just recently arrived from Italy. These are copies of the beautiful statue of Saint Jude by Adam Kossowski, an artist closely associated with the Carmelite Order. It depicts the Saint holding a copy of his letter, which is one of the New Testament letters in the Bible. 

Now some may say that it was just good luck, or others might sense a touch of heavenly intervention, but Matt found himself with his companions in an area of the audience hall where he would have the chance, perhaps, to shake hands with the Pope. When the time came though, Matt was close enough to reach forward and hand Pope Francis the small statue of Saint Jude. The Pope gave a broad smile and asked, before taking it, ‘Is that for me?’ Being reassured that it was, the Holy Father took Saint Jude’s statue in his hands before passing it to the archbishop accompanying him.

I am sure you know that there are rare moments in life when things just seem to come together. We feel that this is one."

At the start of 2017, St Albert's Press was amalgamated into the Shrine Office.

The Shrine of Saint Jude was renovated and painted for the first time in fourteen years at the end of 2017, thanks to a donation from Mrs Florinda Bhadwa. A new webcam was added at the same time, so that pilgrims from around the world could pray at the Shrine.

On 29 October 2017, Archbishop Peter Smith returned and celebrated Mass for the Feast of Saint Jude. Afterwards and with the Prior Provincial, Fr Kevin Alban, they officially opened the small meeting room as the renamed Brother Anthony McGreal room. Brother Anthony McGreal, O.Carm assisted the founder, Father Elias Lynch, O.Carm in establishing the Shrine of Saint Jude and the work of the Carmelite Press. His work with Father Elias created the groundwork for this special place. Brother Anthony’s nephew, Father Wilfrid McGreal, O.Carm was in attendance for this special Mass and renaming of the room. Fr. Wilfrid said a few words about his uncle, which he summed up when he said that he looked up to his uncle as some who was a great and hard-working man.

     

At the end of 2018, Carmelite friars and pilgrims made a pilgrimage across the county of Kent to Canterbury Cathedral on 17th November 2018. The pilgrimage linked one of Kent's newer holy sites (the National Shrine of Saint Jude was established by the Carmelites in Faversham in 1955) with one of its most historic. The pilgrims gathered at the National Shrine of Saint Jude for a morning of reflection and prayer led by Fr. Ged Walsh, O.Carm.After lunch they travelled by coach along the historic pilgrimage route from Faversham - via Harbledown - to the Westgate of Canterbury. The pilgrims, led by the Carmelite Prior Provincial Fr. Kevin Alban, were welcomed at Canterbury Cathedral by the resident Anglican clergy. The pilgrims celebrated Mass in the beautiful crypt, the original location of the Shrine of Saint Thomas Becket before it was moved to the main body of the cathedral. 

   

In 2019, the Shrine and Carmelite Charitable Trust proudly became a member of Your Catholic Legacy. At the Shrine Information Centre, we were finally able to sort out the entrances which had always been an issue: these were swapped and the old entrance became the fire exit. The dangerous glass in between the postroom and Information Centre was covered up so it was safe. 

During the pandemic of 2020/21, the Shrine of Saint Jude offered a number of online initiatives and developments, including 'Praying with Saint Jude at home' and the Virtual Feast of Saint Jude. These were initially daily, but became weekly, reflections written by Carmelite friars, lay people and other people associated with the Shrine, including the Jesuit scholar Fr Nicholas King. These reflections were eventually turned into two successful books: 'God in the Time of COVID-19' and 'A New Hope'. 

In 2020, the Shrine was given five stars by the new guide 'Britain's Pilgrim Places' produced by the British Pilgrimage Trust. The authors particularly emphasised that.."the Shrine is a common meeting ground between Anglicans and Catholics since there was little historical and cultural interest in Jude during Christianity's most difficult years. He is certainly a more productive figure to contemplate than the Reformation martyrs of either side. For that reason alone this Shrine deserves the highest recommendation".

On 19 July 2021, the Shrine was reopened for the first time since March 2020 after being closed because of the Pandemic.

During August 2021, the Shrine sign was returned to the grounds after a four year absence.

Finally, on 16 September 2021, the Mayor of Faversham, Mrs Alison Reynolds officially opened the new Garden of Hope (at the back of the offices).

It was blessed by Fr Brendan Grady, O.Carm, who at that point was completing his time as Chaplain of the Shrine just before he was voted to take on the role of Prior Provincial. 

After ten years of planning and three months of building, a new path called the ‘Footprints of Hope’ was officially opened on 31 May 2024 at the Shrine of Saint Jude in Faversham, Kent.  It was opened by the Mayor of Faversham, Cllr Josh Rowlands with the Prior Provincial of the British Carmelites, Fr. Brendan Grady, O.Carm. The ‘Footprints of Hope’ path is made from individual bricks donated by the friends of the Shrine and the Carmelites with a message on each one.

Over eighty friends of the Shrine who had donated for their own special brick attended the ceremony. One pilgrim said: “Thank you for a lovely celebration on Friday. It was such a nice way to open that footpath. Even with the rain it was still enjoyable. Thank you for all the planning and effort that went into making it all possible." After the opening, each supporter either sought out their special brick or bricks or enjoyed some of the refreshments.

Back in 1955, Carmelite friar, Fr. Elias Lynch, founded the Shrine of Saint Jude for two reasons: first, because he was responding to the needs of the post-war generation who were looking for hope, and secondly because the Carmelite charism is so deeply rooted in the Word of God. It is therefore fitting that there is a place dedicated to Saint Jude - the Apostle of Hope. Both of Fr. Lynch’s initial reasons are still realities in 2024, and pilgrims find the Shrine to be a place of prayer, peace, and hope. In 1955, Jude was very much the forgotten Apostle, which is why people often turn to him when they feel forgotten. However, thanks to the foresight of the Carmelites in England, sixty-nine years ago, Jude is no longer the forgotten Apostle in these isles. Jude enables us to remind ourselves that no-one is forgotten by God. God is our Hope, Jesus is our saviour, and Saint Jude is our friend who reminds us of all of this.

Thank you to the Mayor of Faversham, the team at the Shrine Office, our volunteers, the Faversham Community, the Reading Community, the Prior Provincial, John Toryusen, Mick May, and all the friends of Saint Jude.

Video 1: The building work

Video 2: The Opening Ceremony

Further reading: