By Kelly Wise Valdes
This month we are learning some interesting history about St. Jude Thaddeus. Jude is the Patron Saint of hope and impossible causes and was one of the original twelve Apostles. He was a passionate preacher of the Gospel, even during difficult circumstances.
Jude was a brother of St. James the Less, also one of the apostles. They are described in the Gospel of Matthew as the “brethren” of Jesus, which is thought to mean they were cousins of Jesus, related by blood. Biblical scholars agree St. Jude was a son of Clopas and his mother Mary was the Virgin Mary’s cousin.
Jude is traditionally depicted carrying the image of Jesus in his hand because of one of the miracles that took place during his work spreading the Gospel. King Abagar asked Jesus to cure him of leprosy and sent an artist to bring him a drawing of Jesus. Impressed with Abagar’s great faith, Jesus pressed His face on a cloth, leaving the image of His face on it. Jude took the image to Abagar and his leprosy was cured. Jude is also shown in paintings with a flame around his head representing his presence at Pentecost, when he received the Holy Spirit with the other apostles.
The Book of Jude is the second to the last book of the Bible, just before Revelation. This book, or letter, was written for Jewish converts and directed against the enemies of the Gospel. After the death and resurrection of Jesus, Jude preached throughout Mesopotamia, Libya and Persia with St. Simon. Jude is believed to have brought Christianity to Armenia, where he was eventually martyred around 65 A.D. His body was later brought to Rome and placed in a crypt under St. Peter’s Basilica and his remains still lie there today.
After his martyrdom, pilgrims came to his grave to pray and many of them experienced the powerful intercessions of St. Jude. In the early 20th century, St. Jude Thaddeus was relatively unknown to the general Catholic population in the United States. In 1929, the first devotional services to St. Jude were held at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in southeast Chicago. Before the year ended, the country’s only National Shrine of St. Jude was established. Word eventually spread from the tiny corner of Chicago throughout the country. During the Great Depression and World War II, thousands of men, women, and children attended prayers at the shrine.
Today, millions of people around the world turn to St. Jude, the Patron Saint of Hope, for his intercession.