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Saint Jude, known as Jude Thaddaeus or Jude Lebbeus, the patron saint of lost causes, was a brother of St. James the Less, and a relative of Jesus. He was one of the 12 apostles of Jesus. He should not be confused with Judas Iscariot, yet another apostle, who betrayed Jesus and later committed suicide. Jude Thaddaeus is often called the "Forgotten Saint" since many people reckoned him as Judas Iscariot and avoided prayers on behalf of him.
Jude was the one who asked Jesus at the Last Supper why he would not manifest himself to the whole world after his resurrection. Jude is referred to by several names: Jude is so named twice in Luke and also in Acts among lists of the Apostles; in Matthew he is "Lebbaeus , whose surname was Thaddaeus" (Matthew 10:3); in Mark (3:18) he is "Thaddaeus "; in Acts he is probably intended under the name of "Barsabas " (Acts 15:22).
The multiplicity of names is not interpreted by mainstream Christian writers as a method of blurring Jude Thomas' identity, but attributed to embarassment:
"Even in the Gospels the evangelists were embarrassed to mention the name of Judas. Their prejudice is quite apparent. In the one passage in which St John spoke of Thaddeus, he hurried over the name, and was quick to add, "Judas, not the Iscariot... Even more striking is the fact that both Matthew and Mark never mentioned the full name of this apostle, Jude Thaddeus, but merely called him by his surname, Thaddeus. One can correctly assume that the evangelists wanted to reestablish a good name for this apostle among his companions and especially among the people. By using only his surname, they could remove any stigma his name might have given him" —Otto Hophan, The Apostle ch. X .
The Epistle of Jude bears his name: it is additionally self-identified as written by "Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James". It is directed to the Churches of the East , particularly the Jewish converts, to counter the heresies of the Simonians , Nicolaites and Gnostics.
Jude in traditions among the Church Fathers
More information was required by early Christians, and was forthcoming. Nicephorus Callistus made him the bridegroom at the wedding at Cana, an assertion quoted by Eusebius, according to whom Jude returned to Jerusalem in the year 62, and assisted at the election of his brother, Simeon, as Bishop of Jerusalem. Other traditions claim that he preached the Gospel in Judea, Samaria, Idumaea, Syria, Mesopotamia and Libya. Legend claims that he visited Beirut and Edessa and was possibly martyred with Saint Simon in Persia. Sometime after his death, Saint Jude's body was brought to Rome and placed in a crypt in St. Peter's Basilica which is visited by many devotees.
This Apostle is said to have suffered martyrdom in Armenia, which was then subject to Persia around 65 AD. The final conversion of the Armenian nation to Christianity did not take place until the 3rd century of our era.
The fully-developed legend
Legends have been constructed about Jude which give him an identity separate from Jude Thomas, the Apostle Thomas. Legend that does not give him a separate parentage is at pains to separate him from Jesus:
"Tradition indicates that when the righteous Joseph the Betrothed, on having returned from Egypt, began to divide the land belonging to him among his sons, he desired to allot a part also to Christ the Saviour, Who was born supernaturally and incorruptibly of the Most Pure Virgin Mary. The brethren opposed this, and only the eldest of them, James, accepted Jesus Christ in the joint ownership of his share and for this was called the Brother of the Lord. Later, Jude believed in Christ the Saviour as the awaited Messiah, turned to Him with his whole heart and was chosen by Him to be one of His closest twelve disciples. But the Apostle Jude, remembering his sin, considered himself unworthy to be called the brother of God and in his catholic epistle names himself only the brother of James." &mdashParish Life, June 1996 .
The fully-developed legends, unsupported by canonic gospels nor by early apocrypha, have it that Jude was born into a Jewish family in Paneas , a town in the Galilee portion of ancient Palestine, the same region that Jesus grew up in. He probably spoke Greek and Aramaic, like many of his contemporaries in that area, and he was a farmer (as many of his family were) by trade.
According to the legend tradition, Jude was son of Cleophas and Mary Cleophas, a cousin of the Virgin Mary. Tradition has it that Jude's father, Cleophas, was murdered because of his forthright and outspoken devotion to the risen Christ. After Mary Cleophas's death, miracles were attributed to her intercession. Jude had several brothers, including James, one of the original Apostles. His own first name, Jude, means giver of joy, while Thaddeus, another name he was called, means generous and kind. He was later married, had at least one child, and there are references to his grandchildren living as late as 95 A.D.
Jude is traditionally depicted carrying the image of Jesus in his hand or close to his chest. This idea comes from the legend surrounding the "Image of Edessa", in which King Abgar of Edessa (a city located in what is now southeast Turkey) sent a letter to Jesus to cure him of leprosy and sent an artist to bring him a drawing of Jesus. Impressed with Abgar's great faith, Jesus pressed his face into a cloth and gave it to Jude to take to Abgar. Upon seeing Jesus' image, the King was cured and he converted to Christianity along with most of the people under his rule.
Jude is also often shown in icons with a flame around his head. This represents his presence at Pentecost, when he received the Holy Spirit with the other apostles.
Jude is invoked in desperate situations because his New Testament letter stresses that the faithful should persevere in the environment of harsh, difficult circumstances, just as their forefathers had done before them. Therefore, he is the patron saint of desperate cases and his feast day is October 28(Roman Church) and June 19(Eastern Church).
Modern veneration of Jude
Devotion to Saint Jude began again in earnest in the 1800s, starting in Italy and Spain, spreading to South America, and finally to the U.S. (originally in the Chicago area) in the 1920s. Saint Jude is patron saint of Chicago Police Force. Novena prayers to Jude helped people, especially newly-arrived immigrants from Europe, deal with the pressures caused by the Great Depression, World War II, and the changing workplace and family life.
Last updated: 08-26-2005 01:27:07