About St Jude Thaddeus

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St Jude Thaddeus

The Life of St Jude Thaddeus

St. Jude Thaddeus is also honored as patron saint of hopeless cases. Some have also honored him as the Saint of lost causes. These titles are given because many people have had their prayers answered by his intercession.

Very little has been written about St.Jude Thaddeus life compared to all the miraculous works that he has done. It was not until In 1956 a booklet about Saint Jude life and work by Leo.C.Gaynor was published. The book is intended to help us know St Jude Thaddeus more closely. It is a prayerful effort to increase confidence and devotion to him among us and to introduce him proudly to strangers.

St. Jude is one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He is also called Jude of James, Jude Thaddaeus, Judas Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus. Jude means “giver of joy”, and Thaddeus means “the greathearted one”.

The complexity arose because there were two Jude among the twelve apostles, St.Judas Thaddeus and Judas Iscariot (the apostle who betrayed Jesus). When St.Matthew and St.Mark wrote their Gospels, they tried to avoid the confusion between them by calling St.Jude only by the name of Thaddeus. Early Catholic writer suggested St.Judas Thaddaeus became known as St.Jude during early translation of the New Testament into English in order to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot. Most versions of the New Testament in languages other than English and French refer to Judas and Jude by the same name.[7]

Early Life of St Jude Thaddeus

St Jude Thaddeus was born in Galilee. He and Jesus were first cousins, for his mother and Mary, the mother of Jesus, were blood sister. His loving mother, Mary, and his father Cleophas (sometimes called Alpheus), could not have known that he and his older brother James would be among the chosen twelve apostles, and took tremendous role in the establishment of Christ’s church.

In early life, as a boy St Jude and his brother St James had been to Nazareth for several family events to visit their cousin, Jesus. St Jude was always impressed with Jesus and loved to listen to Him.

It was in his 28 years old at the wedding in Cana where he and St James saw first hand the first public miracle performed by Christ. Jesus, at Mother Mary’s implied wish, had saved the wedding by turning water to wine.

After the wedding feast in Cana, Jesus journeyed to Capharnaum, along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. On this trip He had selected several of His disciples, and they accompanied Him to Jerusalem for the Passover, a great feast of the Jews. St Jude was not among them yet. His public call to follow Christ would come later.

The Call to follow Christ

After seeing the miracle in Cana, St Jude had been actively talked and discussed it with the elders in the town. He believed that Christ was the Anointed of the Lord. However, they could not, or would not, visualize Jesus as the Son of God.

It was at Capharnaum that St Jude joined Christ and the other apostles whom He had already selected. Jesus had completed the list of twelve Apostles so that it would correspond to the twelve tribes of Israel. Several of the apostles had already been named, and St Jude Thaddeus was trilled with emotion when his name was called and become the official member of Christ’s Twelve.

St Jude’s Field Work Following Christ

After becoming one of the apostles, the days that followed were active ones for St Jude. His field work started immediately when he walked with Christ to the little town of Naim. On that first trip he saw Christ show His great power and His compassionate heart by raising the young man to life and restoring him to his widowed mother.

St Jude was at the banquet with the Master when Mary Magdalene washed His feet with penitent tears. He heard the consoling words of Christ: “Her sins, many as they are, shall be forgiven, because she has loved much.”

He also learned another lesson in the boat on the Lake of Genesareth when a sudden storm came up and he cried out with the others: “Lord save us! We are perishing.” He saw Christ stretch out His hand and calm to sea.

He stood outside the house of Jairus where the crowd was mourning the death of the little twelve-year-old daughter. People laughed at Christ when He said, “The girl sleeps.” St Jude saw Him enter the house and say “Girl, arise!” and she arose.

St Jude also carried one of the baskets to gather up the fragments from the feeding of the 5,000 people with the few loaves and fishes.

St Jude’s eyes were raised in astonishment many times as the traveled through Galilee, Samaria, and Jude and witnessed the wonders Christ performed. The teaching, the miracles, the progress of the great drama of redemption in which St Jude now had a part – all have been recorded in the Gospels by the Evangelists, two of whom, Matthew and John, accompanied Jude on these missions.

Time was passing quickly and the apostles had much to learn. One day at Capharnaum Christ gave them their first mission – to go to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel.”. The apostles were dispatched two by two and they were to deliver the message, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Probably Jude and Simon were partners, the beginning of an apostolate which later would carry them to distant countries. They must possess nothing except poverty, in order to gain souls for Christ; nothing for themselves, everything for Christ. It was a challenge to the first apostles and it was to carry down through the ages to their successors.

Going forth, Jude preached repentance to men, cast out devils, cured the sick, and worked other miracles in Christ’s name. This was his first practical work for the Savior. He experienced his first thrill and emotion in exercising the power granted to him. This training was to continue through the public life of Christ; and during the remaining months of close association with Him, St Jude was to witness many more astonishing miracles and to absorb many practical lessons before he was ordained a priest to go among the unenlightened.

At the last supper, Christ gave the apostles the lesson in humility by washing their feet, and he administered a stinging rebuke to their manners by commanding: “Let him who is the greatest among you become the youngest, and he who is the chief as the servant.”

In the supper, Christ instituted the Blessed Sacrament and gave the apostles of His own body and blood. Jude, on account of his place at the table was one of the last to receive the body and blood from Christ’s own hands. He bowed his head reverently when Christ consecrated him a priest and gave him the power to change bread in His body and wine into His blood with the simple words, “Do this in commemoration of Me!” St Jude had now received his full commission. His road of service stretched out ahead of him into the distant lands.

The First Sermon and Journey outside of Israel

St Jude spent the time between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost Sunday in community prayer with the other apostles; Mary, the Mother of God; his own mother, Mary of Cleophas; and the other holy women. Then on Sunday morning, with a rush of wind and parted tongues of fire, Jude received the plentitude of the Holy Ghost and the gift of languages for his missionary work.

Thereafter, though Jude spoke only his native language, he was understood by all listeners in all the countries he visited and he could comprehend their speech. There would be no confusion of tongues in his preaching.

On Pentecost Sunday, Jude delivered his first sermon to the people of many nations who were in Jerusalem at that time. Among them were, as the Bible relates, “Parthians, Medes and Elamites, and inhabitants of Mesopotamia.” Later, Jude would preach to all these people in their own countries and again they would understand him in their own tongues.

The Acts of the Apostles has not preserved Jude’s sermon for us, as it has served Peter’s words on that day, but we know that Jude spoke with the same fire and conviction and that many of the 3,000 converts to the new Church on that early morning were the first fruits of Jude’s apostolate.

Journey to Mesopotamia

St Jude did not start at once on his special assignment to King Abgar in Mesopotamia, for there were official duties requiring his presence in Jerusalem. The first important matter for the apostles was the selection of a new member to replace Iscariot, the one who had defaulted. The choice ultimately fell on Matthias, who henceforth was numbered among the Twelve.

They had to apportion the lands of the Gentiles for their particular missionary work; St Jude, of course, already had his territory assigned by Christ. There was no formality about St Jude’s departure, for he had little to pack for his journey. He had been trained in the school of Christ to travel light. On his first mission to the lost sheep of Israel, Christ had commanded, “Take nothing for your journey, except a staff. … no bread, no money.”

When St Jude left our Blessed Lady, his mother, and the apostles in Jerusalem, he passed over the familiar road into Galilee, where he visited with his relatives for the last time—a “homecoming” and a “farewell.” Then he moved on to Capharnaum, the scene of so many vivid memories, and then out of his own country into Syria, where he announced the Risen Christ to the people at every stop. He knew that haste was not required in reaching Edessa. His official orders were to cure King Abgar, but there was no imminent danger to the king’s health. Hence, he could spread the gospel and work miracles in Syria and Lebanon, as he approached Mesopotamia and the king’s palace.

The first large city on his itinerary was Damascus, an important commercial center on the main highway from Palestine. Syrian merchants had brought home news of the recent events in Jerusalem. Some of them had been in that city when Peter, Jude, and the other aposdes had preached on Pentecost Sunday, and they had heard of the Resurrection. Jude by his presence and his preaching in their own city confirmed the report that Christ was truly risen and that the Scriptures had been fulfilled. The people were filled with awe and reverence at his words, his curing of their sick, and his wonderful miracles.

Jude moved on to Beirut, a coastal town of Lebanon on the Mediterranean, where he continued his preaching and the working of miracles. One of the great miracles is he healed and cleaned King Abgar in Edessa from leprosy. In commemoration of it, he has been represented by artists and sculptors throughout the centuries as carrying an image of Christ in his hand.

St Jude then traveled from Edessa into Bithynia and Pontus, both of which are in the northeast part of the Mesopotamia, with seaports on the Black Sea. He continuously spread the words of God and perform miraculous deeds there.

St Jude’s next journey was into Armenia. When St Jude entered Armenia, it was a pagan country whose people worshiped strange gods. There he planted the seed of Christianity which later was to be harvested by St.Gregory the Illuminator.

There is substantial evidence that Jude traveled at least into the southern part of what is now Russia. The large city of Tiflis is only about 150 miles north of Mount Ararat. It is the capital city of Georgia and it has been destroyed and rebuilt many times through the centuries.

When Jude returned to Edessa, he and Simon were to encounter in Persia what Paul and Barnabas had to contend with at Paphos on the island of Cyprus – magicians full of deceit (Acts 13, 6-10). The country led by General Baradac was prepared for the expected invasion of an army from India, but he was inwardly troubled; he consulted the idols and had not obtained favorable signs. Two magicians Zaroes and Arphaxat who were previously driven out of Ethiopia by St Matthew, blamed this upon the presence of the apostles.

The general ordered that Jude and Simon be brought before him for interrogation. St Jude with the power of God and Holy Spirit predicted the outcome correctly which is peace whereas the magicians predicted war. Even though the General wanted to sentence the two magicians to death, Jude and Simon pleaded to spare them. The General was very pleased and St Jude spent more than 10 years of rich apostolic work in Persia and surrounding area.

The Martyrdom

In Babylonia, St Jude and Simon were tested again by the evil magicians who have seek a refuge there. With the name and power of God they destroyed the statues of the idols in the temple. Although they walked out of the temple with victory, the priests and magicians of the temple have been ashamed and plotted to kill them. Simon and Jude separated, and the enemies caught up with Jude and killed him when he was asleep using clubs. The Apostle Jude is now Saint Jude Thaddeus, represented in paintings and statues with the picture of Christ in one hand, from King Abgar’s day, and with a club in the other hand, the weapon of his death.

St Jude Saint of Lost Causes
Life and Work of St Jude Thaddeus Saint of Lost Causes

If you want to find out more about St Jude Thaddeus life and work, you can click here to request for a book. Please share this to people who need his help and intercession, and let more people know of St.Jude Thaddeus. 

For old and new devotees alike, may this personal acquaintance with St. Jude increase admiration and strengthen confidence in him during our difficult and troubled days on the road that winds uphill all the way to heaven.

Have faith in God and say the prayer to St Jude patron of hopeless cases to ask for his intercession to overcome current difficulties and challenges in life. In addition, I also pray Holy Rosary after each Novena.