St. Louis: TLM at Shrine of St. Joseph

Once again I fulfill my short-term destiny as a telephone pole near a campus coffee house, full of staples and current events notices.

A reader sent this worthy notification:

Father Z:

I wonder if you might be able to plug the recently added TLM at our beloved Shrine of Saint Joseph in Saint Louis?

I’m sure you’re familiar with the incredible story of how this magnificent former Jesuit church was saved from the wrecking ball, literally at the last minute…sadly it did take the murder of its saintly pastor to make it happen.

The TLM is now offered EVERY Sunday at 9:00 a.m.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Mitch says:

    Murder of its’ saintly pastor? Could someone explain??

  2. Ken says:

    Wonderful news! Now two landmarks in St. Louis have the TLM and it is offered in other places as well. I pray our new archbishop will keep this all up when he comes on board, and foster the reform of the reform in parishes that desperately need it!

  3. Xpihs says:

    Indeed, it is a glorious building, truly the gate of heaven. It is also the site of one of the miracles which was wrought by the intercession of Martin De Porres before his canonization in 1962, at least that is what they said at the Shrine when I visited earlier this year.

  4. Diane says:

    Seems to me this parish and it’s story was featured on EWTN once or other Catholic station. Was there a video made of this place and featured on TV?

    If it’s the place I’m thinking it is, this is very good followup to hear.

    …..just found the site, and note the video ads. This is the parish. Excellent news!

    I think the pastor’s story is in the video. Isn’t this the priest who was living in a dumpy, water-leaky rectory room as he pinched very penny he could to restore that church? I highly recommend the video for anyone who hasn’t seen it.

  5. Michael says:

    There is a great hour-long documentary video about the Shrine, which was produced back in 2000 with financing from the lay board that oversees much of the week-to-week care and operations of the Shrine. You can order a copy using this link: . It’s well done and gives the whole history, and the money will support the Shrine, so the purchase is worthwhile. I’m trying to convince the board to make the video freely available via YouTube or Vimeo or something like that, to up public awareness of this remarkable church, but that hasn’t happened yet. The quality of the documentary is high enough that EWTN has aired it a few times.

    Their have been a number of miracles, documented and being documented, at the Shrine. The two most famous miracles took place back in the 1800s, not too long after it was built (it was originally just a parish that underwent several expansions). A German immigrant who had been wounded at the factory in St. Louis where he worked was miraculously healed after kissing a first-class relic of then Blessed Peter Claver, which had been brought to the parish by a visiting Jesuit priest who was conducting missions around the city. The events were investigated by the Vatican, the miracle was authenticated and it was one of the two miracles that led shortly thereafter to the Blessed’s being canonized a Saint of the universal Church. There are still two first-class relics of St. Peter Claver kept at the Shrine (and a first-class relic of St. Padre Pio), which can be venerated by visitors. The second most famous miracle happened during a cholera epidemic in Saint Louis; the pastor suggested that the parishioners should make a vow together to God to honor St. Joseph in some special way if through his intercession they were spared from the deadly diseases\. Not one of those who made the vow nor any of their immediate family members died from cholera. After the epidemic ended, funds were raised to have a *magnificent* new main altar built in honor of St. Joseph. The Vatican declined to authenticate this second miracle (though the events were documented for the Holy See’s review), but the main altar has ever since been known as “the altar of answered prayers.” (Lots of pictures of the church on the website; great footage in the video.)

    The Church was falling apart by mid 20th Century, and was slated for demolition by the 1970s, but some interested laity and a salty old priest assigned to the crumbling church worked hard to get it registered as a historic building. Also, they discovered some terms in the legal agreement whereby the original land owners had donated the property to the diocese with the understanding that it could never be sold for a non-religious or non-Catholic purpose (else the title would revert to the family). Then the priest, Fr. Filipiak, was brutally murdered one night in the rectory by three local thugs. The tragedy galvanized the lay folks who had been working with him, and since that time (late 70s, early 80s) about 7 million dollars has been put into the restoration. Today it’s absolutely gorgeous on the inside and they’re working to restore the outside as well; they need to replace the roof again, and it’s not going to be cheap by any means . . . Then the sacristy is in terrible need of worthy restoration work . . . then, well a building like this will always need costly upkeep . . .

    The long-time, beloved rector of the Shrine — an elderly Franciscan, Fr. Valentine — recently suffered an injury and retired. In July ’08, he was formally replaced by Fr. Brian Van Hove, S.J., who some readers will note wrote a great positive review of Mosebach’s recent book on the liturgy: .

    Fr. Van Hove moved quickly to have Mass offered weekly at the Shrine in the extraordinary form. The celebrant is Fr. Martin O’Keefe, S.J., a Latinist who works with the Institute of Jesuit sources and lives at Jesuit Hall across from SLU. Fr. O’Keefe has been offering Mass in the extraordinary form going back several years before the motu proprio. Fr. Van Hove will continue to celebrate the 11am Sunday Mass in the ordinary form, and he is working hard to introduce elements that our Holy Father and so many others have called for: more Latin, more chant, etc.

    By the way, and I hope Father Z. won’t mind this: the effort to get the extraordinary form well established at the Shrine is solidly underway but we could use some help. We lack many vestments and proper appointments (we’re borrowing stuff and that can get weird) and you can’t always just wave a wand and have the stuff appear. So if anyone knows someone or some group who would like to help us out in acquiring the needed items, please contact the Shrine (contact info is on the website) and let them know what you would like to give (some item or money) and that it is specifically in support of the 9:00am Latin Mass. You would certainly be supporting a worthy cause.

    If the documentary video I keep referring to ends up getting posted for free viewing online, I will try to make you all aware of it — perhaps Fr. Z. could post a link as it’s really inspiring stuff! By the way, Archbishop Burke loved/s the Shrine and has been a big supporter of the restoration efforts.

  6. patrick f says:

    I cant think of a more perfect church in St. Louis for this . I was there years ago, its very much a “wedding church”, but that’s only because it is ABSOLUTELY gorgeous.

    Although, someone may want to correct the site. On it, it has the mass slot listed as the “old rite” :P Maybe that’s shrewd thinking though, but we all know technically, every mass is the “old rite”, just a different form, Summorum Pontificum Baby!

    Sorry to see Fr. Valentine retire. I served my cousin’s wedding with him presiding when I was just 13, he was a very good man. She can say the priest that married her was Fr. “Valentine”. How cool is that for a wedding.

    Praise God for this news! Slowly but surely, the tradition is being restored. Now if we could just get other traditions back, like pentitence, and respect for the clergy. To dream :)

  7. Michael says:

    I thought I would point out that the 9am Low Mass is being offered on “Mary’s Altar” to the left of the main altar:

    There’s an interesting story behind the statue of Our Lady just above the altar: the Jesuits who ran the parish had ordered a new statue of the BVM from a supplier-artisan in Paris, France. The Franco-Prussian War broke out, and a certain extremely expensive statue of Our Lady was unable to be delivered to Notre Dame in Paris; so they sent it to Saint Louis instead of the considerably less expensive one that the Jesuits had ordered. It was so nice that the Jesuits had it sealed behind glass to preserve it (none of the other statues are behind glass). To this day, the glass has never been removed and the statue is in perfect condition.

  8. Jack007 says:

    Thanks for all the great info.
    Is there any particular reason that Mass is not offered at the main altar? Attendance perhaps?
    Any plans to ever allow it at the incredible main altar?
    Jack in KC
    Friend of the Shrine since 1980

  9. Michael says:

    Jack, I am not in a decision making position, but I asked the same question at one point.

    Some things to consider: Moving Mass to the main altar would mean needing to turn on the lights over the main altar and the main body of the Church (rather than on one side), and that runs up the bills. Now, if attendance increases then the weekly collection would offset that increased cost; but attendance is still low because we just got started — so word hasn’t gotten far and wide yet (thanks, Fr. Z, for helping in that regard!!!) — and also because it’s summer and people are on vacation. Also, there is now a “table altar”, or “low altar”, in front of the main/high altar. Mass offered on the high/main altar would be somewhat obscured visually by the low altar, although it could certainly be offered there; or the extraordinary form Mass could be offered on the free-standing low altar (facing the proper direction, of course) but what that would entail logistically hasn’t been figured out yet.

    There is another side altar, dedicated to Jesuit saints who died at a young age; maybe one day Mass in the extraordinary form will be offered there too:
    I’m sure those same saints are at present praying hard for “the restoration of the church” in the broadest sense.

  10. techno_aesthete says:

    More wonderful news! Deo gratias! I have seen the documentary on EWTN and it is quite an inspirational story. If I ever visit St. Louis, I definitely plan to stop in this church.

  11. Here are some photos of the shrine. The statue of the Virgin, mentioned above, is the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.

  12. Hugh Miller says:

    Considerable background is needed for understanding Radiocarbon dating of the Shroud of Turin. Radiocarabon (RC) dating of linen, cotton, bones, fossil wood, sea shells, seeds, coal, diamond (anything with carbon) is serious business. It’s not ha, ha party time for these scientists! Careful decontamination of samples is important [C-14 has half life of ~5,568 years, maximum detectable limits of 50,000 to 80,000 years]. They’ve been holding serious technical conferences world wide for over 50 years. Labs do not geta “absolute dates” as claimed by the labs dating the Shroud. The equipment can be very expensive like over $1 M to set up an accurate and precise Accelerated Mass Spectrometer (AMS) in which the Shroud of Turin was tested. AMS C-14 can help provide the approximate age of an ancient city, a fallen civilization, a sunken boat, when a certain volcano exploded. For example a truer age for the famous Saber tooth tiger (Smilodon)was determined to be 12,000 to 28,000 RC years and a shocking 25,000 to 31,000 years for dinosaur NOT 65 to 225 M for their bones as evolutionists claim [that’s >2000 times younger than what we are told]. Thus as a result of C-14 dating we can dispute The Pontifical Academy of Sciences if they try and tell Catholics and the world in their November meeting of 2008 that Evolution of life from non-life is a fact. The PAS would be dead wrong as RC dates above have shown; and, as Prof. Dr. Larry Azar (RIP) of Iona College, USA has pointed out in his book, “Evolution and Other Fairy Tales”. Uhm! How do ONLY evolutionists get appointed to the PAS when the preponderance of scientific evidence is against it? [google earth age,

    Dennis Swift for dinosasur depictions and Creation Evidence Museum for fossil human and dinosaur footprints together (also U-tube for Alvis Delk fossil print).

    Now back to the Shroud: A few years ago when I worked as a chemist in a small research laboratory (for three years) I worked with samples of “modern altar linen” supplied by the Catholic Church where I attend. We heated the linen without water present and obtained “futuristic” radiocarbon dates (the data could only be considered a need for more research. I thus would agree with Dr. John Jackson’s theory of carbon monoxide absorption and more power to him; and he will need lots of funding; anybody there? What would have happened had we heated and doused it with water? Check out this statement by Dr. Marie Claire Van Oosterwyck of France who has written a book (in French) on the false RC dating of the Shroud: “The characteristics of this area (peculiar orange-red are from which the RC samples were taken in 1988) are easily interpreted as resulting from an hydrothermal attack that occurred during the 1532 fire as proved by the observation of Adler who considered it as a “strongly contaminated waterstain” area and found in it traces of gold. Molten silver and furfural having previously been found in the same area, the attack had therefore occurred at a temperature of ca 1000 degrees in presence of water vapor and in reducing conditions.” Perhaps this will help those unfamiliar with RC dating to see how important it is to the study of the origins of anything. We will still need a leap of faith on all origins issues but “Careful” C-14 testing helps us get closer to the truth as God told us in Genesis 1-11, That way we aren’t confused by what those who dislike scripture try and preach to us as fact. God bless!

    Hugh Miller
    Kolbe Center/Columbus Ohio Paleo Group

  13. Rob says:

    Whilst at “the Altar of Answered Prayers,” would someone please be so kind as to pray that the recently suppressed Holy Trinity Church in Boston be reopened? I saw the St. Joseph story on EWTN around the time that the suppression of Holy Trinity was announced in 2004, and I drew inspiration from the story – and saw many parallels to the situation of Holy Trinity. It, too, is a historic church built by German immigrants – a gem the Archdiocese seems to think is expendable, but which would be perfect for a “niche” mission (to students, young adults, as a shrine, headquarters of a religious order, etc. etc.). Unlike St. Joseph, condition issues at Holy Trinity are not extreme – we don’t have two tons of bird manure in our tower! Restoration, therefore, would be quite feasible. Of course, we would have to raise money, but some, if not most, could come from outside the Archdiocese, such as from the historic preservation community, German Americans, and the faithful attached to the extraordinary form.

  14. Lynne says:

    Father, you make a great telephone pole!


  15. MICHAEL says:

    Wow…..what a absolutly gorgeous shrine you all have……i would just die to have such a place to attend mass
    I am a traditional catholic and it really hits hard when i see something as beautiful as this shrine that still exist in this corrupted world…….God bless

    you all for being able to have such a place to call home…….God bless you father for having the latin mass and bringing the sacrements

    to all……amen!!!!!

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