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Shrine of St. Joseph, Saint Louis

#11 of 25 in Historic Sites in Saint Louis
Religious Site · Hidden Gem · Tourist Spot

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

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
41 reviews
  • This is really pretty and looks like it was built 175 years ago. Those Jesuits knew how to build a lasting church. Go on a sunny day and enjoy the light coming through the windows.  more »
  • This is an historic and beautiful Catholic church still operational, albeit with limited Mass times. My family of five (three kids ages 4 - 9), wanted to see the church during our St. Louis visit, so....  more »
  • Just came from a tour of this beautiful shrine. It is so amazing. The main altar is a work of art, the statues are unbelievable. The stained glass windows, the ceiling, the 3 Dimensional Stations of the Cross is all just unbelievably beautiful. And the story of the shrine from beginning to now is one everyone must hear. Please go and donate.
  • Beautiful, holy grounds. Did you know a murdered priest said "I'd for for this church."? When he did, the restoration of this glorious shrine was put in motion. Everything in this church is carved from wood! Even the (not granite) pillars and baptismal font! Well worth the visit! The Mary carving was built for the Cathedral of Notre Dame but ended up here because it could not be delivered to France due to unrest in the region.

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