St. Jude Society Prayer Book
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE LIFE OF ST JUDE THADDEUS (HELPER IN DESPERATE CASES)
“But you my beloved, building yourselves upon your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, unto life everlasting”. -(Jude 1:20-21)
After the death and resurrection of Jesus, Saint Jude, known as the brother of James the less and a cousin of Christ, travelled throughout Mesopotamia for a period of ten years preaching and converting many to Christianity.
St. Jude, together with St. James the less, are called “brethren” of our Lord. In the Aramaic as well as in Hebrew, this word, ‘Brethren’ often means cousins or distant relatives. We know that Mary has no other children except Jesus. Sacred Scripture often uses ‘brethren’ in the wide sense. For example, Lot is called ‘the brother of Abraham” whereas he was actually his nephew) Gen. 14:12. Laban is called the ‘brother’ of Jacob, but he was his uncle (Gen. 27:43). These two Apostles, James and Jude, were probably the sons of Cleophas who was married to our Lady’s sister, Mary of Cleophas. Thus, James and Jude were first cousins to our Lord. Cleophas was put to death by the Jews because of his fearless confession of the Resurrection of Christ and thus he won the Crown of Martyrdom.
In his boyhood, St. Jude and his brothers must have been close companions of Jesus. No mention is made of St. Jude’s occupation before his call to the apostolate, but we may judge that he was a farmer, since he belonged to the tribe of Judah, which was devoted to farming. From the time St. Jude was chosen to be an apostle, he laboured with untiring zeal particularly forthe conversion of the gentiles.
St. Jude is usually represented wearing a picture of Our Lord on his breast. This custom stems from the legend that he cured Abgar, the king of Edessa. (The modern day city of Urfa in Turkey), of his leprosy. Abgar was said to have sent for Jesus to cure him, but Jesus unable to gratify his request at that time, in loving compassion, pressed a cloth to his face and impressed His features upon it. He gave the cloth to Abgar’s message with a promise that he will send someone later to cure him. After Our Lord’s Ascension, St. Jude Went to Edessa and healed Abgar, and through his eloquent preaching, converted the king and his whole household and the community.
After establishing the church at Edessa, St. Jude visited the whole of Mesopotamia,preaching the Gospel and everywhere increasing the number of the faithful. He returned to Jerusalem for the Council fo the Apostles, and afterwards joined St. Simon in Libya, where they both spread the light of the Gospel. Then they sent out for Persia, where God gave them an abundant harvest. Before the arrival of the two Apostles the habits and laws of the Persians were unjust, marriage tie was totally disregarded and the dead were thrown into the fields to become food of wild animals. Taught by the Apostles true religion, they soon became the admiration of other Christians.
St. Jude died a Martyr’s death, as tradition tells us he was clubbed to death and his head; was shattered with a broad axe. Sometime after his death, his body was brought to Rome and Placed in a Crypt in St. Peter’s Basilica. St. Jude in his epistle identifies himself in two ways (1) “Servant of Jesus Christ” (2) “Brother of James”.
Devotion to the Holy Apostles should be cherished because they are first teachers of our Faith. During the middle ages the Apostles were held in high veneration, but in our materialistic age, this devotion has greatly declined, though veneration of St. Jude Thaddeus has been revived in recent years St. Jude is called the Patron of Hopeless and Desperate Cases, owing to the singular help he has obtained for his clients in grave necessities.
He bears the name- “Thaddeus” (Latin) or “Lebbeus” (Greek), which means “Amiable” or “loving”, which distinguishes him from Judas Iscariot, the traitor….