About St. Jude
St. Jude, also known as Thaddeus, was one of the twelve Apostles called by Jesus at the start of His public ministry. Scripture tells us that St. Jude was a relative of both Jesus Himself and of the Apostle James the Lesser, not to be confused with James the Greater, brother of Apostle John. Tradition holds that Jude was born in Galilee, that he was a farmer, and that his father was a relative of St. Joseph and his mother a relative of the Virgin Mary. There is also an ancient text claiming that Jude was the groom of the wedding at Cana. The only other thing we know about St. Jude from the Gospel itself is that he asked Jesus at The Last Supper, “Lord, why is it that you will reveal yourself to us and to the world?” - to which Jesus answered, “Anyone who loves me will be true to my word” (John 14:22-23).
Jude Thaddeus was, indeed, true to Jesus’ word to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). For a very credible and established tradition tells us that Jude evangelized much of the Middle East and even part of North Africa for more than thirty years before his martyrdom. Because of his preaching in the region we call today Armenia, he is the patron saint of that country, and he is especially venerated in the Eastern churches and India.
St. Jude The Apostle is traditionally regarded as the author of the shortest book in the New Testament, “The Epistle of St. Jude,” although his authorship is today questioned by biblical scholars. In any case, the letter speaks a word of instruction to Jewish Christians in the Middle East and warns against heresies creeping into the Church at the time, “godless persons, who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and who deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 4). Believers have attested that St. Jude has answered their prayers by powerfully interceding for them in “hopeless” situations.
The letter’s exhortation, “But now I feel obliged to write and encourage you to fight hard for the faith delivered once for all to the saints” (Jude 3), is considered the source of the very common devotion to St. Jude as the patron of causes despaired. Whatever the reason, countless Icons of St. Jude typically depict him holding a club or staff, sometimes an axe, with a flame upon his head, wearing a medallion bearing the face of Jesus, and at times holding a book or scroll. The club or axe indicates how Jude was martyred in Beirut, in 65 AD, by a maddened pagan mob that bashed in his head; hence he is represented with a club or staff in his hand. The flame upon Jude’s head represents His presence at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended in fire upon the Apostles and empowered them to proclaim the Good News. The scroll or book suggests that St. Jude is the author of the epistle named for him. St. Jude’s medallion embossed with the face of Jesus derives from a narrative contained in Eusebius’History Of the Church (c325AD): Abgar, the King of Edessa in modern day Greece, sent a plea to Jesus to come and heal him of a disease, leprosy. Jesus sent back to the king the promise of a visit by one of His disciples, and a miraculous imprint of Himself on a cloth, which the king cherished. After the death and resurrection of Jesus, St. Jude went to Abgar to effect the cure and to baptize him and his subjects. Thus, Jude became associated with the miraculous image of Jesus. This story may also have contributed to St. Jude’s identity as patron Saint of the desperate.