Founded by German Catholic immigrants, the Shrine of St. Joseph is a magnificently restored Baroque church that opened in 1846. It is the only Midwestern church that is the site of an authenticated miracle, which occurred when a German immigrant with tuberculosis was healed of his illness in 1864 after kissing a relic belonging to St. Peter Claver. The miracle was authenticated by the Vatican as one of two miracles needed to canonize the saint, who was known for his work among African-born slaves in South America during the seventeenth century.
The church is a shrine for healing for another reason as well. Its central altar is called the Altar of Answered Prayers, which was installed in 1867 after church parishioners asked St. Joseph to intercede and save them from a deadly cholera epidemic that was sweeping the river city (not a single person who prayed for protection died). The Italian Renaissance-style altar was given in recognition of their gratitude, and is modeled after the Altar of St. Ignatius at the Jesuit Gesu Church in Rome.
Within the past decade, six million dollars has been spent on the restoration of this ornate and gorgeous church. Once a month, the choir sings the mass in Latin, accompanied by one of the largest handmade Pfeffer tracker organs in existence. Tours are conducted after 11 a.m. Mass every Sunday.
The Shrine of St. Joseph is at 1220 North 11th Street in St. Louis.