Jude the Apostle

From New World Encyclopedia
Saint Jude the Apostle

Saint Jude Thaddeus, by Georges de La Tour. c. 1615-1620.
Apostle and Martyr
Born First century B.C.E.
Died First century C.E. in Persia
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Eastern Catholic Churches, Coptic Christians, Anglican Church
Major shrine Saint Peter's, Rome, Rheims, Toulouse, France
Feast October 28, June 19
Attributes axe, club, boat, oar, medallion
Patronage Armenia, lost causes, desperate situations, hospitals, St. Petersburg, Florida, the Chicago Police Department, Clube de Regatas do Flamengo from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Saint Jude (1st century C.E.), also known as St. Judas or Jude Thaddeus, was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, who is sometimes confused with Jude, the brother of Jesus, the probable author of the Epistle of Jude.

Jude the apostle is widely viewed as a saint by different branches of Christianity. For example, the Armenian Apostolic Church honours him along with Saint Bartholomew. Correspondingly, Roman Catholics see him as the patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes.

He should not be confused with Judas Iscariot, another apostle and later the betrayer of Jesus. Their name is a Greek variant of Judah and was common among Jews at the time.

Issue of Identity

There is some ambiguity regarding the precise identity of Saint Jude within the New Testament because his details vary within the Synoptic Gospels:

  • Mark and some manuscripts of Matthew identify him as "Thaddeus."
  • Other manuscripts of Matthew name him as "Lebbaeus."
  • Other manuscripts of Matthew name him as "Judas the Zealot."
  • Luke names him as Judas, son of James, or in the King James Version: "Judas the brother of James" (Luke 6:16).

Modern biblical scholars are nearly unanimous in claiming that Saint Jude and Thaddeus did not represent the same person.[1][2] Various 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;[1] the possibility that "twelve" was a symbolic number and an estimation;[3] and the obvious possibility that the names were not recorded perfectly by the early church.[4]

Some early Christian writers, by contrast, have argued that the multiplicity of names for this apostle was an attempt to distinguish this Apostle from Judas Iscariot:

"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.[5]

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).

The Gospel of John (John 14:22) also mentions a disciple called Judas, who during the Last Supper asks Jesus: "Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?" The passage takes care to distinguish the disciple from the subsequent traitor by the wording "Judas (not Iscariot)." Scholars are uncertain whether this refers to Jude of James or not.[6] Almost universally accepted, however, is that this Jude is not the same as Jude the brother of Jesus (Mark 6:3 and Matthew 13:55-57, but compare John 7:5) or the author of the Epistle of Jude.[7] Identifying the apostle Jude with the writer of the epistle is problematical, not least because in verse 17 there is a reference to "the apostles" implying the writer does not include himself. Although the name "Jude" was common in first-century Israel, tradition has conflated the persons (as was the case for various figures named Mary and John).

Since tradition also numbered a Thaddeus among the Seventy Disciples mentioned in Luke 10:1-24, some scholars have argued that another Thaddaeus was one of the Seventy. However, the identification of the two names has been virtually universal, leading to the name of Judas Thaddaeus. However, Eusebius wrote, "Thomas, one of the twelve apostles, under divine impulse sent Thaddeus, who was also numbered among the seventy disciples of Christ, to Edessa, as a preacher and evangelist of the teaching of Christ."[8]


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. 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.

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 latter mission is also attributed to Thaddeus of Edessa, one of the Seventy. He is reported as suffering martyrdom together with Simon the Zealot in Persia. The fourteenth-century writer Nicephorus Callistus makes Jude the bridegroom at the wedding at Cana.

Though Saint Gregory the Illuminator is credited as the "Apostle to the Armenians," when he baptised King Tiridates III of Armenia in 301 C.E., 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 martyrdom

According to the Armenian tradition, Saint Jude suffered martyrdom about 65 C.E. 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.[9][10] 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 a monastery on an island in the northern part of Issyk-Kul lake in Kyrgyzstan at least until mid-fifteenth century.


St. Jude is traditionally depicted carrying the image of Jesus in his hand or close to his chest, denoting 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 either painted a likeness of Jesus, or Jesus, impressed with Abgar's great faith, 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.

Subsequent Veneration

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".)

Many Christians, especially in the past, reckoned him as Judas Iscariot and avoided prayers on behalf of him. Therefore he was also called the "Forgotten Saint." 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).

To encourage devotion to St. Jude, it is common to acknowledge in writing favors received. He is frequently thanked in the personals column of many daily newspapers.


  1. 1.0 1.1 John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew volume 3, p.130-133, 200 ("Christian imagination was quick to harmonize and produce Jude Thaddeus, a conflation that has no basis in reality.")
  2. Rudolf Pesch, Simon-Petrus. Geschichte und geschichtliche Bedeutung der ersten Juengers Jesu Christ, Paepste und Papsttum 15, Hiersmann, 1980, p.36.
  3. E. P. Sanders, Jesus and Judaism (Fortress Press, 1985, ISBN 0-334-02091-3), 102.
  4. Joseph Fitzmyer, The Gospel according to Luke: Introduction, translation, and notes, Volume 2 (The Anchor Bible, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1981-1985, ISBN 0385005156), 619-620.
  5. St. Jude.
  6. Raymond Brown, The Gospel According to Saint John Vol.2 (Yale University Press, 1970), 641.
  7. Jerome H. Neyrey, 2 Peter, Jude (Anchor Bible Reference Library, Doubleday, 1993), 44-45.
  8. Historia Ecclesiastica, I, xiii.
  9. The Golden Legend: The Lives of Saints Simon and Jude Retrieved May 25, 2008.
  10. CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Apocrypha Retrieved May 25, 2008.

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Barclay, Ronnie. 2003. "The Letters of John and Jude." Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 978-0664225575
  • Brown, Raymond. The Gospel According to Saint John. Vol. 2. Yale University Press, 1970. ISBN 978-0300140729
  • Fitzmyer, Joseph. The Gospel according to Luke: Introduction, translation, and notes, Volume 2. The Anchor Bible, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1981-1985. ISBN 0385005156
  • Green, Michael. 1987. "The Second Epistle of Peter and the Epistle of Jude: An Introduction and Commentary." Send the Light. ISBN 978-0802800787
  • Ruffin, Bernard. 1998. "The Twelve: The Lives of the Apostles After Calvary." Our Sunday Visitor. ISBN 978-0879739263
  • Sanders, E.P. Jesus and Judaism. Fortress Press, 1985. ISBN 0-334-02091-3

External links

All links retrieved October 4, 2022.


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