Saints of the Day – 28 October – Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles of Christ
The Holy Apostles Simon and Jude
(Excerpt) By Father Francis Xavier Weninger SJ (1805-1888)
St Simon, whose festival the Church commemorates to-day, was surnamed the Cananaean or Canaanite because he was born at Cana, a town in Galilee. In this town, Jesus wrought His first miracle, by changing water into wine, as is known from the Gospel. St Nicephorus (c 758-828) Bishop of Constantinople and some others, are of the opinion that Simon was the bridegroom whose wedding our Lord and His holy Mother honoured with their presence but that he afterwards left his bride with her consent and followed Christ.
St Jude, the brother of Simon, is called Thaddseus to distinguish him from the other Jude or Judas’ who betrayed and sold the Lord. According to St Nicephorus, Mary Cleophas was their mother and James the Lesser, their brother. Other writers say that Simon and Jude were not brothers. The Gospel tells us that both Simon and Jude were chosen by Christ as Apostles but when, or under what circumstances, this took place, is not recorded, nor have any particulars of their words and actions been left us. There is, however, not the slightest doubt that they, as all the others, constantly followed the Saviour and, although they forsook Him when He was taken prisoner, they had, after His Resurrection the grace to see Him frequently, to be present at His Ascension and to receive the Holy Ghost on Pentecost.
When later, the Apostles separated to preach the Gospel, St Simon went to Egypt and St Jude to Mesopotamia. Both, however,, were also in other lands, to preach the word of Christ and after thus spending 30 years in apostolic labours, they met again, by Divine dispensation, in Persia. On their arrival in this land, they found the Persian army in the field, for the King had declared war against India and was in the act of marching against it. Baradach, the General in Chief, had offered many sacrifices to the gods, desiring to know the issue of the war but no answer was given, which had always been given before, as the Evil spirits spoke through the idols. Hence Baradach, amazed at such unusual silence, sent to another idol which was kept in a place far from the camp and desired to know the reason of it. Satan, answering through it, said that the presence of two Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ was the cause of the silence of the gods, as the power of these two Apostles was so great that not one of the gods, until now so greatly honoured, dared to appear before them.
Baradach, having received this answer, had the two Apostles brought before him. He met them with great manifestations of respect and listened to them, while they spoke to him of the nothingness of the gods which he worshipped. As he was desirous to know the issue of the war, they made use of the occasion to show him how false were the words of the idols and hence, how groundless was the notion, of their divinity. They bade him propose his questions to the idols, through the magicians as usual and told him that they would give his gods permission to speak. The magicians were ordered to ask the gods and returned with the answer, that the result would be a long, bloody and disastrous war.
The Apostles having heard this, said to Baradach: “Now, great Prince, recognise the falsity and the deceit, as well of your magicians, as of your gods. A deputation of the Indians will arrive tomorrow, at this hour, in your camp, to request peace of you on whatever conditions you may choose to prescribe.” Baradach, surprised at these words, awaited with great impatience the following day. At the very hour the Apostles had foretold, the Indian embassy came humbly begging for peace, which was forthwith concluded.
This event was reported to the King, who resided at Babylon. He called the Apostles into his presence, listened with great attention to their words and after having been sufficiently instructed in Christianity, was Baptised by his holy teachers. The example of the King was followed by the whole Court and a great part of the City.
After this, the holy men went through the other towns and villages of the kingdom, everywhere preaching the mysteries and truths of the Christian Faith. Many thousands became converts, only the magicians and fortune-tellers remained in their blindness and seeing, with deep resentment, that they were everywhere despised and derided, they sought means to kill the holy Apostles. To this end, they excited the inhabitants of a town, which was far distant from the residence of the King, against the Saints, who had no sooner arrived there, than thay were seized and dragged, the one before an idol of the sun, the other before that of the moon and were commanded to offer incense. The holy men refused to comply with so wicked a demand, saying that they sacrificed only to the true God, after which they began to preach the Gospel. But the furious Pagans refused to listen to them and in their rage, cut St Simon asunder with a saw and beheaded St Jude. In this manner these two holy Apostles ended their lives and earned the glorious Crown of Martyrdom.
An interesting note:
In the life of St Bernard we find that this Saint had a particular devotion to St Jude. He received, with extraordinary joy and veneration, the Relics of this holy Apostle which were sent to him and, on his death-bed, he requested that they should be laid on his breast and be buried with him.