God, we thank you for the glorious company of the Apostles, and especially on this day for Simon and Jude; and we pray that, as they were faithful and zealous in their mission, so we may with ardent devotion make known the love and mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with Thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Saint Simon and Saint Jude were apostles, which means they were followers of Christ. After Christ's Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven, the apostles travelled all over the world, bringing the word of Christ to the people. This is what Christ asked them to do, and he gave them instructions on how they were to travel and what they were to teach. These two apostles probably did not travel together. Saint Jude preached the Gospel in Judea, Samaria, Syria, and Mesopotamia. When he was quite old, in 62 AD, he returned to Jerusalem to help with the selection of a bishop for Jerusalem. It is interesting to realise that in just 62 years, or maybe even less, the Church that Jesus Christ began by giving his life, and that the Apostles build and spread with their lives, had grown so large that it needed bishops to help the priests and deacons look after and teach the people.
Saint Jude, Helper of the Hopeless, is one of the most invoked saints of our century. He is the saint of the impossible, and it is said that he never fails to bring relief to those in desperate need. We turn to Saint Jude when all else fails. The flame of the Holy Spirit always burns over his head. He is a powerful presence, ever ready to step in and take control of a desperate situation. Because he was ever faithful to Christ and with him at the very beginning, he is in an especially exalted state of grace and can easily negate all common trials and tribulations.
Jude Thaddeus was one of the original Twelve Apostles. Brother of James the Lesser and a cousin of Jesus, he grew up with Christ and played with him as a child. He is venerated in France and in Rome, where his relics are located; but devotion to Saint Jude all but disappeared in the Middle Ages. Because he was often confused with Judas Iscariot, the apostle who betrayed Christ, no one ever invoked Saint Jude for anything. This is why he became the saint of the impossible. In order to have people invoke him, he helped those in the most difficult circumstances. When a request is granted, the person praying must publish his thanks to Saint Jude. This way, more people will know to call on him. Daily and weekly newspapers are filled with small ads thanking him for his intercession.
In his time, Saint Jude Thaddeus was known for his greatness of heart. It is said that he was so kindly and spiritual in nature, he glowed. He traveled through Edessa, Mesopotamia, and Pontus preaching Christianity. Abgar, the king of Edessa, was quite impressed with him. Since this king suffered from leprosy, he was anxious to meet Jesus so that he might be cured. He invited Jesus to come and share his kingdom. When he was told that this was not possible, he commissioned an artist to draw Christ’s portrait. The artist was so intimidated by the glow in Christ’s eyes, he could not draw. Christ took a linen cloth and impressed it on his own face. His image came off on it, perfectly rendered. Saint Jude took this portrait back to King Abgar, who rubbed it on his body and was cured of his leprosy. This is the large image that Saint Jude wears around his neck in art.
Saint Jude is associated with Saint Simon, with whom he traveled to Persia. They were subjects of great curiosity and popularity among the people of the places they traveled. They frequently outwitted court magicians and priests, to the amusement of the local kings. Invited to have their losing antagonists executed, as was the custom of the day, the two apostles forbade this, saying they had been sent not to kill the living but to bring the dead back to life. Ultimately, Saint Simon and Saint Jude were martyred in the city of Samir after enraging the local priests. Saint Jude was beaten to death with a club. This is the staff he is always shown with in art.