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’, and clearly distinguished from Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus.
The Armenian Apostolic Church honors Thaddeus along with Saint Bartholomew as its patron saints. In the Roman 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. Another common attribute is Jude holding an image of Jesus Christ, in the image of Edessa. In some instances he may be shown with a scroll or a book (the Epistle of Jude) or holding a carpenter’s rule. The boat is also common as a reference to missionary endeavours.
Jude is clearly distinguished from Judas Iscariot, another disciple and later the betrayer of Jesus. Both ‘Jude’ and ‘Judas’ are translations of the name Ioudas 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. In most bibles in languages other than English and French, Jude and Judas are referred to by the same name. ‘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 sometimes connotated a relationship of father and son, it has been traditionally interpreted as ‘Jude, brother of James’ (Luke 6:16) though the New International Version translation refers to him as ‘Jude son of James’.
The Gospel of John also once mentions a disciple called ‘Judas not Iscariot’ (John 14:22). This is often accepted to be the same person as the apostle Jude, though some scholars see the identification as uncertain.
In some Latin manuscripts of Matthew 10:3, he is called Judas the Zealot.
Possible identity with Thaddeus. 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. This is made plausible by the fact that “Thaddeus” seems to be a nickname.
A further complication is the fact that the name “Judas” was tarnished by Judas Iscariot. It has been argued that for this reason it is unsurprising that Mark and Matthew refer to him by an alternate name.
Thaddeus the apostle is generally seen as a different person from Thaddeus of Edessa, one of the Seventy Disciples.
Brother of Jesus 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.
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. 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 sister 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.
Although Saint Gregory the Illuminator is credited as the “Apostle to the Armenians”, when he baptized 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 Saint Thaddeus Monastery (now in northern Iran) and Saint Bartholomew Monastery (now in southeastern Turkey) which were both constructed in what was then Armenia.
Death and Remains
According to the Armenian tradition, Saint Jude suffered martyrdom about 65 AD in Beirut, in the Roman province of Syria, 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.
Sometime after his death, Saint Jude’s body was brought from Beirut to Rome and placed in a crypt in St. Peter’s Basilica which was visited by many devotees. Now his bones are in the left transept of St. Peter’s Basilica under the main altar of St. Joseph in one tomb with the remains of the apostle Simon the Zealot. According to another 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 the mid-15th century. Later legends either deny that the remains are preserved there or claim that they were moved to a 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.
So it seems that St Jude has a bit to offer. Firstly he reminds us that the team is not just the star player, the Captain, the Coach. The team is the team and every member of the team matters.
Some would argue that Paul’s missionary journeys were to the low hanging fruit, where as Jude went into the hard country, and persevered to ensure that the Gospel could be heard in those places as well.
The Armenian Church does remind us that there is much from the ancient culture that we do not need to throw out, but rather that we have much to learn.
In the end we are called to be faithful, not successful.