Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Feast of Saint Jude the Apostle

Today we celebrate the feast of saint Jude

Saint Jude was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He is generally identified with Thaddeus, and is also variously called Jude of James, Jude Thaddaeus , Judas Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus. He is sometimes identified with Jude, brother of Jesus, but is clearly distinguished from Judas Iscariot, another disciple and later the betrayer of Jesus.

The Armenian Apostolic Church honours Thaddeus along with Saint Bartholomew as its patron saints. In the Roman Catholic Church he is the patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes.

Saint Jude's attribute is a club. He 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. Occasionally he is represented holding an axe or halberd, as he was brought to death by one of these weapons. In some instances he may be shown with a scroll or a book (the Epistle of Jude) or holding a carpenter's rule

Jude is clearly distinguished from Judas Iscariot, another disciple and later the betrayer of Jesus. Both "Jude" and "Judas" are translations of the name Ιούδας in the Greek original New Testament, which in turn is a Greek variant of Judah, a name which was common among Jews at the time.

"Jude of James" is only mentioned twice in the New Testament: in the lists of apostles in Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13.

The name by which Luke calls the Apostle, "Jude of James" is ambiguous as to the relationship of Jude to this James. Though such a construction commonly denotes a relationship of father and son, it has been traditionally interpreted as "Jude, brother of James" (See King James Version), though Protestants (for instance, the New International Version translation) usually identify him as "Jude son of James".

The Gospel of John also once mentions a disciple called "Judas not Iscariot" (John 14:22). This is generally accepted to be the same person as the apostle Jude,[1] though some scholars see the identification as uncertain.[2]

In some Latin manuscripts of Matthew 10:3, he is called Judas the Zealot.

In the comparable apostle-lists of Matthew 10:3 and Mark 3:18, Jude is omitted, but there is a Thaddeus (or in some manuscripts of Matthew 10:3, "Lebbaeus who was surnamed Thaddaeus") listed in his place. This has led many Christians since early times to harmonize the lists by positing a "Jude Thaddeus", known by either name.

Many modern Biblical scholars reject this theory, holding that Jude and Thaddeus did not represent the same person.[3] Scholars have proposed alternate theories to explain the discrepancy: an unrecorded replacement of one for the other during the ministry of Jesus to apostacy or death;[3] the possibility that "twelve" was a symbolic number and an estimation;[4] or simply that the names were not recorded perfectly by the early church.[5]

However many conservative Christian writers argue that, because the name "Judas" was so tarnished by Judas Iscariot, it was natural for Mark and Matthew to refer to him by his alternate name.[6].

Thaddeus the apostle is generally seen as a different person from Thaddeus of Edessa, one of the Seventy Disciples.

Opinion is divided on whether Jude the apostle is the same as Jude, brother of Jesus, who is mentioned in Mark 6:3 and Matthew 13:55-57, and is the traditional author of the Epistle of Jude.[7]

Generally Catholics believe the two Judes are the same person,[8] while Protestants do not.[9]

Identifying the apostle Jude with the writer of the epistle is problematic, not least because in verse 17 there is a reference to "the apostles" implying the writer does not include himself.

Tradition holds that Saint Jude preached the Gospel in Judea, Samaria, Idumaea, Syria, Mesopotamia and Libya. He is also said to have visited Beirut and Edessa, though the emissary of latter mission is also identified as Thaddeus of Edessa, one of the Seventy. Jude is reported as suffering martyrdom together with Simon the Zealot in Persia. The 14th century writer Nicephorus Callistus makes Jude the bridegroom at the wedding at Cana.

The legend reports that St. Jude was born into a Jewish family in Paneas, a town in Galilee later rebuilt by the Romans and renamed Caesarea Philippi. In all probability he spoke both Greek and Aramaic, like almost all of his contemporaries in that area, and was a farmer by trade. According to the legend, St. Jude was a son of Clopas and his wife Mary, a cousin of the Virgin Mary. Tradition has it that Jude's father, Clopas, was murdered because of his forthright and outspoken devotion to the risen Christ. After Mary's death, miracles were attributed to her intercession.

Though Saint Gregory the Illuminator is credited as the "Apostle to the Armenians", when he baptised King Tiridates III of Armenia in 301, converting the Armenians, the Apostles Jude and Bartholomew are traditionally believed to have been the first to bring Christianity to Armenia, and are therefore venerated as the patron saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Linked to this tradition is the Thaddeus Monastery.

Symbol of his martyrdomAccording to the Armenian tradition, Saint Jude suffered martyrdom about AD 65 in Beirut, Lebanon together with the apostle Simon the Zealot, with whom he is usually connected. Their acts and martyrdom were recorded in an Acts of Simon and Jude that was among the collection of passions and legends traditionally associated with the legendary Abdias, bishop of Babylon, and said to have been translated into Latin by his disciple Tropaeus Africanus, according to the Golden Legend account of the saints.[10][11] Saints Simon and Jude are venerated together in the Roman Catholic Church on October 28.

Sometime after his death, Saint Jude's body was brought from Beirut, Lebanon to Rome and placed in a crypt in St. Peter's Basilica which is visited by many devotees. According to popular tradition, the remains of St. Jude were preserved in an Armenian monastery on an island in the northern part of Issyk-Kul lake in Kyrgyzstan at least until mid-15th century. Later legend either denounce remains as being preserved there or moved to yet more desolate stronghold in the Pamir mountains. Recent discovery of the ruins of what could be that monastery may put an end to the dispute.[citation needed]

St Jude is traditionally depicted carrying the image of Jesus in his hand or close to his chest, betokening the legend of the Image of Edessa, recorded in apocryphal correspondence between Jesus and Abgarus which is reproduced in Eusebius' History Ecclesiastica, I, xiii. According to it, King Abgar of Edessa (a city located in what is now southeast Turkey) sent a letter to Jesus to cure him of an illness that afflicts him, and sent the envoy Hannan, the keeper of the archives, offering his own home city to Jesus as a safe dwelling place. The envoy painted a likeness of Jesus with choice paints, or impressed with Abgar's great faith, Jesus pressed his face into a cloth and gave it to Hannan to take to Abgar with his answer. Upon seeing Jesus' image, the king placed it with great honor in one of his palatial houses. After Christ had ascended to heaven, St. Jude was sent to King Abgar by the Apostle St. Thomas. The king was cured and astonished. He converted to Christianity along with most of the people under his rule. Additionally, St. Jude is often depicted with a flame above his head. This represents his presence at Pentecost, when he received the Holy Spirit with the other apostles.

St Jude Thaddeus 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. (The epithet is also commonly rendered as "patron saint of lost causes".) However, there is another reckoning to this epithet. Many Christians have unfortunately reckoned him as Judas Iscariot and thus avoided veneration. Therefore he was also called the "Forgotten Saint". Because veneration was avoided, only people in the most desperate circumstances would call upon him.

The Order of Preachers (the Dominicans) began working in present day Armenia soon after their founding in 1216. There was a substantial devotion to St. Jude in this area at that time, by both Roman and Orthodox Catholics. This lasted until persecution drove Christians from the area in the 1700s. 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. (starting in the area around Chicago) owing to the influence of the Claretians and the Dominicans in the 1920s. Novena prayers to St. 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.

Saint Jude is the patron saint of the Chicago Police Department and of Clube de Regatas do Flamengo (a popular football (soccer) team in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). His other patronages include desperate situations and hospitals. One of his namesakes is St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, which has helped many children with terminal illnesses and their families since its founding in 1962. His feast day is October 28 (Roman Catholic Church and Lutheran Church) and June 19 (Eastern Orthodox Church). A common Roman Catholic prayer is:

“ Most holy apostle, St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the name of the traitor who delivered thy beloved Master into the hands of His enemies hath caused thee to be forgotten by many, but the Church honors and invokes thee universally as the patron of hopeless cases, of things despaired of. Pray for me, who am so miserable. Make use, I implore thee, of that particular privilege accorded to thee, to bring visible and speedy help where help is almost despaired of. Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive the consolation and succor of Heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly -- (Mention your request) and that I may praise God with thee and all the elect throughout eternity. I promise, O blessed Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favor, and I will never cease to honor thee as my special and powerful patron, and to do all in my power to encourage devotion to thee. Amen. ”

An alternative prayer is :

“ Saint Jude, Hope of the Hopeless, Pray for me ”


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