On a recent visit, I went to Kent and in particular visited the national shrine of St Jude. Coming from a very religious background the shrine was a very interesting experience. The official website explained it as a“shrine which adjoins the parish church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, also served by the friars. Since 1955, the shrine has been a center of devotion to Saint Jude in the UK .Through the contributions of those devoted to the Apostle; we have supported the presence and ministries of the Carmelite Friars in Great Britain and the great work of the missions around the world.”



Saint Jude was one of the Twelve Apostles appointed by Jesus to lead his Church. In the Gospel accounts, he is generally identified with "Thaddeus", and is variously known as Jude Thaddaeus or Judas Thaddaeus. For many centuries he was wrongly confused with Judas Iscariot, the disciple who was said to have betrayed Jesus and handed him over to the soldiers. Little is known about Jude's later life, but by the tradition of the Church is that after preaching about the Good News of God's love for all Jude has died as a martyr, giving his life in witness to Jesus Christ and for serving his purpose.



However, in art, Saint Jude is normally shown holding a club, axe or palm branch, the symbols of his martyrdom, or a scroll or book containing his epistle. Another common attribute in depictions of Jude is to show him holding an image of Jesus, symbolizing his relationship to Christ as a blood relative which could also mean that he was a very close and devoted follower of Jesus.



Jude is today revered as a saint with widespread devotion among Christians. Saint Jude is the patron saint of various groups and places and is best known as the patron of "desperate" or "difficult" cases which is a very important thing for people in modern days. Perhaps with stressful jobs and long tiring days, Saint Jude can be seen as one of the most important saints and perhaps a really important role model in today’s society. He could also be seen as a figure that makes it easier for people to talk to and discuss and problems as well as offer their prayers.



The National Shrine of Saint Jude at Faversham was built in the 1950s. Carmelites try to nurture a close relationship with Christ and his family - especially Mary the Mother of God - and so perhaps it was natural that devotion to Jude should have become popular in Carmelite communities, not only in Faversham but around the world. The fact that it is the national shrine of St Jude means it is a very important religious and holy place for many people.



In my opinion, it was a very spiritual time but also a place of reflection and tranquillity. It hosts the community at Kent and is a very wonderful church.