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St. Jude the Apostle

St. Jude the Apostle by Br. Robert Lentz, OFM

Artwork Narrative:

Very little is known of the Apostle Jude except that he was one of Jesus’ cousins. One of the Epistles in the New Testament is ascribed to him. According to tradition, he preached the Gospel in Persia and was martyred there with St. Simon.

In this icon he is depicted according to the cannons of the Byzantine Church as a young man with a new beard. In one hand he carries a traveler’s staff. He blesses with his other hand.

The Apostles are special patrons of every Christian, for every Christian is a successor of the Apostles. The Apostles were not bishops. They traveled from place to place, preaching the Gospel. Bishops were appointed to govern churches the Apostles had established. A bishop is "wedded" to the particular local church over which he presides. His authority is confined to that place or "diocese." All Christians, however, are called to spread the Gospel like the Apostles. For centuries this truth has been overshadowed by other concerns in the Church, but it remains a part of our purest ancient tradition.

His feast day is October 28.

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St. Jude, known as Thaddaeus, was a brother of St. James the Less, and a relative of Our Savior. St. Jude was one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus.

Ancient writers tell us that he preached the Gospel in Judea, Samaria, Idumaea, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Lybia. According to Eusebius, he returned to Jerusalem in the year 62, and assisted at the election of his brother, St. Simeon, as Bishop of Jerusalem.

He is an author of an epistle (letter) to the Churches of the East, particularly the Jewish converts, directed against the heresies of the Simonians, Nicolaites, and Gnostics. This Apostle is said to have suffered martyrdom in Armenia, which was then subject to Persia. The final conversion of the Armenian nation to Christianity did not take place until the third century of our era.

Jude was the one who asked Jesus at the Last Supper why He would not manifest Himself to the whole world after His resurrection. Little else is known of his life. Legend claims that he visited Beirut and Edessa; possibly martyred with St. Simon in Persia.

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. Saint Jude is not the same person as Judas Iscariot who betrayed Our Lord and despaired because of his great sin and lack of trust in God's mercy.

Died: Beaten, then beheaded post-mortem in 1st century Persia; relics at Saint Peter's, Rome, at Rheims, and at Toulouse, France

Name Meaning: Sweetness or gentleness of character (Thaddeus)