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Thank You, St. Jude

Thank You, St. Jude: Women`s Devotion to the Patron Saint of Hopeless Causes

Copyright Date: 1996
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Thank You, St. Jude
    Book Description:

    St. Jude, patron saint of hopeless causes, is the most popular saint of the American Catholic laity, particularly among women. This fascinating book describes how the cult of St. Jude originated in 1929, traces the rise in Jude's popularity over the next decades, and investigates the circumstances that led so many Catholic women to feel hopeless and to turn to St. Jude for help.Robert A. Orsi tells us that the women who were drawn to St. Jude-daughters and granddaughters of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe and Ireland-were the first generations of Catholic women to make lives for themselves outside of their ethnic enclaves. Orsi explores the ambitions and dilemmas of these women as they dealt with the pressures of the Depression and the Second World War, made modern marriages for themselves, entered the workplace, took care of relatives in their old neighborhoods, and raised children in circumstances very different from those of their mothers and grandmothers. Drawing on testimonies written in the periodicals devoted to St. Jude and on interviews with women who felt their lives were changed by St. Jude's intervention, Orsi shows how devotion to St. Jude enabled these women to negotiate their way amid the conflicting expectations of their two cultures-American and Catholic.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-16269-1
    Subjects: Religion, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xviii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-xxiv)
  5. 1 “From South Chicago to Heaven”: The Making of the National Shrine of Saint Jude
    (pp. 1-39)

    Older residents say that in the good times South Chicago’s skies were black by midmorning from the soot cleaned out of the chimneys of the steel mills along Lake Michigan. Things were good in South Chicago when the mills were going strong. Railroad cars clanked through the yards to the high sound of warning whistles, barges moved along the shore, and the noise of trip-hammers reverberated all day in the neighborhoods. Women say it was impossible to keep their families’ clothes clean because of the cinders in the air, and professional men brought extra white shirts with them to their...

  6. 2 Hopeless Causes and Things Despaired Of
    (pp. 40-69)

    Although the lives of the immigrants’ sons and daughters alike were changing in the years between the wars, the difficulties of young women were distinct and in many ways more intense than those of their male kin. They found themselves at the center of family conflict, contending with sharply divergent pressures, demands, and responsibilities. They led the way in most of the social changes described in the previous chapter, especially in the most fiercely contested domains of work and love, but at the same time they were held responsible for looking after the kin left behind in the old neighborhoods....

  7. 3 Imagining Women
    (pp. 70-94)

    The prominent devotional magazineAve Mariabegan a long-running series of stories in 1955 by Anna-Margaret Record about a character named “Marcy Balaird,” a married woman with six children who had recently converted with her husband to Catholicism.¹ Up before dawn, Marcy baked bread, dusted, washed and scrubbed, stopping only when her baby needed to nurse. Hard as she worked, Marcy was never done and never satisfied, and she accompanied her labors with a steady drone of self-reproach. Exhausted all the time by this epic battle against domestic disorder, she steadfastly maintained a plucky demeanor for her family, not wanting...

  8. 4 “I Recognize Him When He Turns”: Women Imagining Jude
    (pp. 95-118)

    Clara was driving in Chicago one afternoon on family business that was taking her, as usual, from one end of the city to the other. She stopped for gasoline at a service station in an unfamiliar neighborhood and made a quick telephone call. As she was edging her way back into the heavy rush-hour traffic, distracted by the many things she still needed to get done before dinner, her car suddenly stalled and came to a standstill.

    “Just then, a huge semi-truck went speeding before me. If I had pulled out, I would have been hit broadside. There is no...

  9. 5 “She Would Tell Me Her Troubles, and I Mine”: Hagiography as Stories in Two voices
    (pp. 119-141)

    “Oh, Judas” devotional writer Sister Marguerite lamented in theVoice of St. Judein the summer of 1948, “if only you had gone to Mary” The Mother of God would have consoled and comforted you, made you less lonely and desperate, less confused about your master’s mission. Even after you had kissed the Lord’s cheek in the garden she “would have devised a plan for you” if you had called on her. There was still hope as “you were breathing out your twisted, gasping life” at the end of the rope if only you had turned “interiorly” with your “last...

  10. 6 Healings
    (pp. 142-184)

    St. Jude has been as much a part of the immigrants’ daughters’ experience of illness since the 1920s as doctors, laboratories, and drugs. More than half of all the narratives received by Chicago had (and still have) to do with sickness, according to the women who sort through the Shrine’s correspondence, and their estimate is confirmed by the evidence of the letters pages. Many devout thought of sickness as Jude’s domain; sometimes they identified him as the patron saint of whatever specific disease was afflicting them. The healing of Sarah Muldowney, one of Jude’s earliest American miracles, was widely advertised...

  11. 7 “There’s Miracles, and Miracles, and Miracles”: The Cult of Hopeless Causes
    (pp. 185-212)

    As the devout have told their stories over the years to each other and to the Shrine in Chicago, in desperate circumstances they prayed to St. Jude and . . . something good happened for them. Errant husbands came home, medical procedures proved unnecessary, children passed exams. dying fathers reconciled with their families, and so on, thanks to St. Jude. The women involved did not query the elision in the narrative further. Such reversals of fortune occurred because Jude loved them unconditionally and knew their needs without their having to speak them. But it is precisely into this space between...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 213-270)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 271-294)
  14. Index
    (pp. 295-303)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 304-305)