Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles of Christ – 28 October
Today the Church celebrates the feast of Sts Simon and Jude whose names occur together in the Canon of the Mass and are also celebrated on the same day. These two Apostles have been linked in name since the early days of Christianity and some believe that this is because they were relatives of Jesus.
St Simon in the Gospels is called “the Zealot” and this may indicate that he belonged to that military group of Jews called the Zealots, the last of whom committed suicide on Masada rather than surrender to the Roman legions. Legend has Simon evangelising the area around Edessa in Syria, where later a great school of theology arose. It is also said, that after preaching in Egypt, he joined St Jude in Mesopotamia and that they both went as missionaries to Persia and were martyred there. Undoubtedly, their names are linked also because of this association.
Jude was most certainly a cousin of Jesus and is mentioned in the lists of the “brothers of the Lord.” In Luke he is called Jude and in Matthew and Mark, ‘Thaddeus’ and is considered to be the brother of James, the first Bishop of Jerusalem and the leader of the early Christian community there – this is James the Lesser, not the brother of St John. He is the author of the Epistle of Jude in the New Testament, one of those called the ‘Catholic Epistles.’ It is believed that the early translators of the New Testament from Greek into English, sought to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot and subsequently abbreviated his forename. In iconography, , St Jude is often shown with an image of his cousin, our Lord Jesus and a tongue of fire over his head.
At the Last Supper, it was Jude who asked the Lord Jesus, why He did not manifest Himself to the rest of the world and Jesus answered that he and the Father would visit all those who loved Him, saying – “We will come to him and make our abode with him.”
Jude is the patron of ‘hopeless cases’ and devotion to him, as the advocate of impossible causes, is widespread throughout the Church. So why is St Jude Thaddaeus the patron saint of desperate causes? The traditional reason is rather simple – When one hears the name Judas (Latin and Greek) or even Jude (English), one immediately thinks of Judas Iscariot who betrayed our Lord. Therefore, a person had to be desperate to invoke his name. Being so seldom invoked and reverenced, St Jude is ready and waiting to hear the prayers of those who call upon him. Ironically, he is probably the Apostle who is invoked the most in prayer and the most memorialised in churches, with statues and stained glass windows or other artworks.
It is a beautiful tradition, associated with prayer to St Jude, for his intercession, to leave a copy of the prayer in a Church, or before his Statue, Picture or Shrine, for someone else in great need, to find. The prayer is usually prayed as a Novena.
Prayer to St Jude
Patron of Impossible Causes
Most holy Apostle, St Jude,
faithful servant and friend of Jesus,
the Church honours and invokes you universally,
as the patron of hopeless causes,
of things almost despaired of.
Pray for me, I am so helpless and alone.
Help me, I implore you,
by that particular privilege given to you,
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 help of Heaven in all my necessities,
tribulation and sufferings,
particularly ………………… (state request)
and that I may praise God with you
and all the elect forever.
I promise, O blessed St Jude,
to be ever mindful of this great favour,
to always honour you as my special and powerful patron
and to gratefully encourage devotion to you.