A Tour of the National Shrine

Passing through the parish church, you access the National Shrine of Saint Jude by passing along a corridor.


Carmelite saints in stained glass
The corridor between the church and shrine is lined with stained glass windows by the artist Richard Joseph King (1907-74), depicting important figures in the tradition of the Carmelite Order.
1. St. Simon Stock. A Kentish man who became Prior General of the Order in the 1250s and who died in Bordeaux, France, in 1265. Our tradition associates him with a strong devotion to the Mother of God.
2. St. Brocard. The Carmelite Rule was given to Brocard by St. Albert the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem sometime between 1205 and 1214. This is symbolised by the scroll in Brocard's hand.

3. The Prophet Elisha (Eliseus). In the Old Testament Elisha was a disciple of the Prophet Elijah, and when Elijah went to heaven Elisha received his prophetic spirit.
4. The Prophet Elijah (Elias). Elijah was one of the great prophets of the Old Testament. He lived on Mount Carmel and was 'Zealous for the Lord of Hosts". Tradition has it that he went up to heaven in a fiery chariot.

It is thought that when the artist created the stained glass he depicted the features of four Carmelites living at that time, Fr. Joe Kelly (Ireland), Fr. Patrick Geary, Fr. Kilian Lynch and Fr. Malachy Lynch. The artist, Richard Joseph King, was born in Castlebar, County Mayo, Ireland, and entered Harry Clarke's stained glass studio in 1928, becoming manager of the studio from 1935-40. He then worked independently on his own commissions. He was also an admirer of the works of the sculptor Eric Gill.

The outer shrine area
This was previously the Baptistery where the font of the parish church was kept. Two great Archangels etched in the glass flank the doorway as guardians and reminders of the Communion of Saints. They carry the instruments of the Passion. A prayer intentions board displays photographs of people and prayers submitted by friends of the Shrine for whom the Carmelites pray.


The outer shrine area.

Artwork by Adam Kossowski
Adam Kossowski was an eminent artist who did a considerable amount of work on religious subjects for the Carmelites, especially at Aylesford Priory a few miles away from Faversham. In the entrance to the church and the shrine are holy water stoops by him.


One of the holy water stoops by Adam Kossowski.

Within the outer shrine there are the three ceramic plaques in the Outer Shrine area including one of the martyrdom of Saint Jude. Saint Jude is traditionally depicted with a club in his hand. This stems from the tradition that he was clubbed to death for his fidelity to Christ. The ceramic depicts this moment of human brutality - perhaps this is a moment for prayer for those in the modern world who suffer the same fate for their beliefs.


The Kossowski ceramic depicting the martyrdom of St. Jude.

Among the ceramics is also a moving depiction of Christ's crucifixion.


The Kossowski ceramic depicting the crucifixion of Christ.

The stained glass in the outer shrine area
The stained glass windows were installed about 1957 and were also executed by Richard Joseph King. This series of windows can be compared to similar windows made for the Church of Swinford in Mayo in the 1950s. The artist also did a picture of Our Lady of Mount Carmel for the Carmelite Church in Aberystwyth.

The windows in the outer shrine area are, from left to right:

1. The Resurrection of Christ. Note the crosses of Calvary in the background on the right. The angel of the resurrection on the bottom right and Pieta on the bottom left reflect the passion and resurrection theme. The letters INRI on the top of the cross Christ is carrying. Christ displays wounds in his hands. The ChiRho (PX) is the early christian symbol of Christ. The star of Bethlehem in the background on the left is a reference to the birth of Christ. This symbol is balanced by the crosses on the right which refer to his death. Rays coming from heaven are seen behind the Christ figure. The influence of cubism in the. handling of the composition is particularly seen in the interaction between Christ's halo and the cross, and in the handling of the empty tomb at the bottom of the picture. Note also the symbolic treatment of colour: red and white symbolise passion and resurrection, yellow, white and blue are also resurrection colours favoured by King.

2. Mary and the Christ Child with the Holy Spirit. The serpent behind is seen as a reference to domination over evil. The serpent and the crescent shape of half moon just visible at the bottom right of the window signify Mary's Immaculate Conception, which was a theme which King depicted often. King was interested in the close relationship of Mary and Christ. The importance of the Holy Spirit is shown in the circular shape of the wings of the dove surrounding the heads of Mary and Christ and the rays which come down from heaven. The red cross against the white background in Christ's halo is a reference to his cross and resurrection. The cross and M seen in the front of the Christ Child are symbols of Mary and Christ.

3. God the Father. The hand of God raised in blessing with the sceptre across his left shoulder. He is surrounded by rays. God is presented as a King, but also with a cloud or halo in the shape of a triangle, traditional symbols of God the Father and of the Trinity. Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end are seen on the left. The Father created the earth and water, moon and stars, Adam and Eve. Moses and the Ten Commandments. The serpent and the cross may be a reference to the bronze serpent on the staff of the time of Moses , and to the Garden of Eden as shown by Adam and Eve and the tree of knowledge. It also refers to Christ overcoming evil. Water is seen coming from the rock, again a reference to Moses. There are links between the Old and the New Testament. Again the artist has used reds and pinks especially in the garments of God.

The Shrine Chapel
Through the archway is the Shrine Chapel, which serves as a prayerful antechamber before the statue of Saint Jude.


Pilgrims kneeling in the Shrine Chapel, before the statue of St. Jude.

Suspended from the ceiling are twelve large votive lamps in silver, symbolising the twelve Apostles (among whose ranks was Saint Jude).

The windows are again the work of Richard King. The triple light at the back of the Shrine Chapel depicts Our Lady of Mount Carmel (with the Scapular in her hand) and the Christ-Child with a scapular and dove, with attendant angels on a rainbow. The rainbow imagery here refers to the Old Testament story of Noah in the Book of Genesis. The dove seen above the hands of the Christ Child, could again refer to the dove bringing the olive leaf to Noah, but Christ is also seen as the bringer of peace.


The triple light (window) showing Our Lady of Mount Carmel with the Infant Jesus
(details below).

Behind the altar is another triple light, this time depicting Christ on the Cross vested as a priest, while below are seen the hands of a priest celebrating Mass with host and chalice.


Pilgrims in prayer before the triple light (window) of Christ on the Cross.
 

The offered host seen in the centre of a Cross, which is placed above a chalice, emphasises the idea of sacrifice. On either side are the souls in purgatory.

Beneath the stained glass are three plaques by Adam Kossowski - the centre plaque depicting the Crucifixion is visible here - this is flanked by the two angels visible at the top of this page.

The icons of Carmelite saints
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 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; Blessed Elias Kuriakos Chavara and Blessed Isidore Bakanja; Blessed Titus Brandma and Saint Edith Stein. To read an article (in PDF format) about the symbolism and installation of the first two icons please click here.
 


Icon of Saint Albert (left) and Saint Brocard (right) on Mount Carmel.


Icon of Blessed John Soreth (left) and Blessed Frances d'Amboise (right).


Icon of Blessed Elias (left) and Blessed Isidore Bakanja (right).


Icon of Bl. Titus Brandsma (left) and St. Edith Stein (right).

The Inner Shrine
The statue of the Apostle Jude in the Inner Shrine beyond the Shrine Chapel is really the work of art which most focuses pilgrims' devotion.


The statue of St. Jude in the inner shrine.

The statue is sixteenth-century Spanish gilt and polychrome wood.

The statue was a gift from Mr. & Mrs. Michael and Mary Murphy. In the Carmelite News, Fr. Elias recounted how the statue came to be donated:

The Faversham statue of St. Jude turned up in a peculiar way. A man wrote to tell me that his wife was depressed and sorely afflicted because her son had been lost at sea in the submarine war. He asked me to pray to St. Jude that God would give her patience, resignation and fortitude. This we did. I wrote to him to say that we did not have a good statue of St. Jude and he wrote back to say that he had seen one in an antique shop in London, Spanish 16th century. Could he donate it to the Church? Of course I said "yes" and down it came. It certainly looked like an Apostle, but it was the most Mongolian looking statue I had ever seen. There was an element about it that was quite impressive and the artist had not spared either his time or labour in the carving. The donor asked me to put a little plaque under it, asking prayers for his son lost at sea". I said to him, "It is a little too soon yet. Wait a while." Sure enough, ten weeks later the son turned up as a prisoner of war on a captured German sea raider. The plaque was never put up.

As Fr. Elias recounted, the donors' son presumed lost at sea was later found. However, in the subsequent course of World War II that young man and one of his brothers died as members of the Merchant Navy. In 2015, the Diamond Jubilee of the Shrine, a surviving son, Mr. James Murphy, was present at the National Shrine celebrations to see in place a plaque that reads: "This statue of St. Jude was donated by Michael Joseph and Mary Bridget Murphy of Hythe, Kent, in memory of their sons Matthew and Michael who died on active service in the M.N. during World War II. R.I.P."

The Shrine, the mosaic apse, ironwork and exterior frieze in mosaic were designed by Michael Leigh A.R.C.A., who worked on various Churches including some of the mosaics in Westminster Cathedral.

The two large candles either side of the altar were donated to the Shrine by clients of St Jude as memorial candles. Their names are on the pedestals.

The reliquary which stands in the inner shrine is known as the Augsberg Reliquary. It is a modern copy of a silver monstrance dated 1547, and it has been modified to display the relic, a bone fragment, of St. Jude. The veneration of relics raises all kinds of questions in the modern world. To read an excellent text about relics by the eminent Carmelite theologian Fr. Christopher O'Donnell, O.Carm., please click here.


The St. Jude reliquary.

The carvings of the Twelve Apostles round the apse in the inner Shrine are by Anthony Foster. He was Eric Gill's principal assistant, and Gill had a very high opinion of his work. The design was based on the Malmesbury Apostles. St. Paul has been substituted for Judas Iscariot.


Carvings of the Twelve Apostles.

For security reasons this area is enclosed by a wrought iron gate. Inside the gate on either side, although hidden from sight, are two panels in aggrafito work by Adam Kossowski, one bearing the names of the Apostles, and the other the Apostles Creed, embellished with early Christian symbols. The lettering and ornamentation are in red and black, and the effect is obtained by laying a foundation of red and black plaster, then covering it with an off-white plaster, and while the latter is still moist cutting away the lettering with a stylus to reveal the colours beneath.

The former murals

Destroyed by a fire at the Shrine in 2004, there were once eight mural panels in subdued fresco colour and tone, painted by Michael Leigh. The theme was "Great Visionaries and Mystics".


This photograph of the inner shrine area in the 1950s shows the former murals.

The panels were in oil and finished in dry tempera which gave a very pleasing pastel effect. These pictures were done in the mood of El Greco, the great Spanish mystical painter. El Greco gave to his saints a length beyond the normal, in order to heighten the effect. Moreover, he was the artist of strong light and shade. His brush was fierce, clear and uncompromising. The paintings included:

ST PAUL on the road to Damascus. He shades his eyes with his arm as if to keep out the revelation of God. "Saul, why persecuteth thou me?" That was the striking note of a universal Church, because in him God chose a travelling man. THE REPENTANT PETER. A wonderful study of the Prince of the Apostles, humble and in disgrace; the cockeral as his undying reminder. No crossed keys; that was to come later. ST JOHN OF THE CROSS. The great Spanish poet and mystic, whose poetry will live on, as long as people can read. "In the evening of life you will be judged on love." ST TERESA OF AVILA. The foundress of the Discalced Nuns. The Interior Castle was depicted on the top left.