Who Is St. Jude?
Probably no saint, after the Blessed Mother, has drawn such enthusiastic followers down through the centuries as St. Jude Thaddeus. He was one of the chosen 12 Apostles; his brother was James the Less. Not too much is actually recorded about his life: it seems his big popularity began after his death.
Through history, legend and tradition, however, we can construct some detailsconcerning this powerful intercessor and close friend of the Divine Master. St. Jude comes from the line of David and is a cousin of Jesus Christ. The Jewish people, proud of their lineage, kept exact records of their ancestors, and we see that St. Jude's father, Cleophas, was the brother of St. Joseph. St. Jude's mother, Mary of Cleophas, was a cousin of the Blessed Virgin Mary: their mothers were sisters.
In the Gospel, Mary of Cleophas is identified as the "sister" who has the courage to stand beneath the Cross of Christ along with the Virgin Mary and St. John. In the Hebrew language, the word "sister" was often used to include the cousins.
St. Jude's Epistle
The Fathers of the Church; such men as St. Ambrose, St. Bernard, St. Jerome and others, gave us more insight into this great man's character by their commentaries on the Epistle of St. Jude. St. Jerome in his work, applies the name "zealot" to St. Jude. St. Bernard of Clairvaux tells us that St. Jude was courageous because of his virginal purity and the courage he used to protect it.
St. Jude most probable came from farming people, for the tribe of Juda from which he came was of that occupation. After he became an Apostle, he always manifested an intense interest in the salvation of the Gentiles. So at the Last Supper, when Christ said, "yet a little while and the world no longer sees me. But you shall se me, for I live and you shall live;" (John 14, 19) it was St. Jude who then exclaimed, "Lord, how is it that You are to manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?" St. Jude was asking in effect, how Christ's message was to be made known to the Gentiles.
After the Ascension of Christ, St. Jude headed for his beloved people--the Gentiles. Many stories come down to us: his miraculous cure of King Abagaro, ruler of Edessa, a city in Mesopotamia...while in Persia with St. Simon, he effected an unexpected peace for King Varardach--and won over the king and his entire court to the Catholic faith.
Death of St. Jude
For many more years, St. Jude made missionary journeys, preaching, dispensing the Sacraments throughout Mesopotamia, Armenia, and even southern Russia.
One day an enraged pagan mob fell upon the gentle and good man, and bludgeoned him to death. That is one reason why St. Jude is today pictured holding a club--in memory of his martyrdom. The bodies of St. Jude and St. Simon have laid in St. Peter's in Rome for many centuries. St. Jude was a tireless worker--he tried--he dared to try the impossible; and he was successful. Steadfastly pure in body and soul, Jude gave of himself not only in life but in death as well.