Shrine of St. Joseph, Saint Louis

4.8
#12 of 19 in Historic Sites in Saint Louis
Description

History 1846-1866

This beautiful old church, at the corner of 11th Street and Biddle in St. Louis, Missouri has a vast and interesting history. The church had its beginning in 1843. The Jesuits founded the parish to serve a pleasant residential community consisting mostly of German immigrants. Also, the church is the site of the only authenticated miracle in the Midwest.

After founding the parish in 1843, the Jesuits immediately began plans for building a church. Mrs. Ann Biddle, a wealthy widow, known for her many philanthropic deeds, donated the land for the new church. The cornerstone was blessed by Bishop Kenrick on April 14, 1844. The completed structure was a modest building facing west toward 11th Street. It was dedicated on the first

Sunday in August of 1846 with Father James Van de Velde, later Bishop of Chicago, officiating.

St. Joseph Parish soon became a very active community. In

1862, a large parish school was built nearby. The Sisters of Notre Dame staffed the school for the many children of the area.

In late 1861, a German immigrant, Ignatius Strecker, was suffering from an injury he incurred while working at a local soap factory. Despite every known treatment, Mr. Strecker

grew worse and was finally told by doctors that he had two weeks to live.

History 1866-1880

Father Francis Xavier Weninger, a famous Jesuit missionary, came to St. Joseph's Parish to preach a mission. Father Weninger preached on the Blessed Peter Claver, who was held to have great intercessory powers with God. Mrs. Strecker happened to attend the service and she was so impressed that she hurried home to implore her dying husband to seek the help of Peter Claver.

The next day, Wednesday, March 16, 1864, Mr. Strecker managed to drag himself to the church. He arrived just as Father Weninger was blessing the congregation with a relic of Peter Claver. Observing Mr. Strecker's extreme weakness, the priest allowed him to kiss the relic. Immediately, the sick man seemed to experience a resurgence of strength. He began to heal and within a few days he returned to his job. In a few months, he was restored to full health.

Two years after this spectacular cure, the Most Reverend Michael O'Connor, a Jesuit priest, made a thorough canonical investigation of the incident. In 1887, the miracle was formally declared authentic by Cardinal Bianchi in Rome. Therefore, it was chosen as one of the two required miracles in the canonization process of Peter Claver. He was canonized a Saint the following year. St. Joseph’s Church became the only church in St. Louis as a site of an authenticated miracle. It developed a legend of assistance to the afflicted.
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Shrine of St. Joseph Reviews
Rate this attraction
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
40 reviews
Google
4.8
TripAdvisor
  • I attended Sunday Mass here. The people were so friendly! One of the volunteers gave us a tour of the church after mass and invited us to stay for their (free) festival that afternoon as well. Unfortu...  more »
  • We were passing through and this church popped up. We found it easy enough just off interstate. Church was closed when we got there. But the courtyard offered a great place for reflection. Also to str...  more »
  • Stopped in and lucked into a private tour. Our docent was wonderfully knowledgeable about the church's history. Beautifully restored...a must see!  more »
Google
  • Amazing and special place. Very beautiful!
  • Honestly one of the prettiest churches in St Louis. The paintings, the priest, the architecture, it’s all amazing.
  • Didn't get to see inside as it's locked most of the time. Only tours after mass on Sundays
  • This is such a beautiful place!!
  • Beautiful church!
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