By Mary Sayad
Who is St. Jude? The Gospel tells us that St. Jude was a brother of St. James the Less, also one of the twelve apostles. These two together with two other brothers (one St. Simeon of Jerusalem) are described by St. Matthew, 13:55, as the "brethren" of Jesus. In the Hebrew language, the word "brethren" indicates a near relationship.
St. Jude is the grandnephew of St. Ann and St. Joachim, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He is the nephew of Joseph and Mary which makes him cousin to Our Lord. Undoubtedly, he and Jesus grew up together and were playmates.
We are told that St. Jude's father, Cleophas, was murdered because of his forthright and outspoken devotion to the risen Christ. Mary Cleophas, the mother of St. Jude and St James the Less, was a cousin of the Virgin Mary. His closeness to Christ and the Mother of God make him a powerful intercessor for us.
St.Jude is shown, traditionally, as carrying the image of Jesus in his hand as well as a club in his left hand. According to tradition, the imprint of Jesus' face was entrusted to him by Our Lord.
At the time of Jesus' ministry, King Abagaro of Edessa, who suffered from leprosy, sent word to Jesus asking Him to come and cure him. With his request, we are told, the King sent an artist to return with a painting of Our Lord. Upon seeing Christ, the unsuspecting artist was so blinded by the luminescence emanating from Christ's face that he was unable to paint His image.
Impressed with his great faith, Our Lord pressed His Image on a cloth and gave it to St. Jude to bring to the King of Edessa and cure him. The first words of greeting to the king were, "Thou hast faith in the Lord Jesus, and therefore He sent me." St. Jude then placed his hands upon the king and the sores of leprosy disappeared with a cure that was both instantaneous and complete. The King and his court and entire kingdom of Edessa were converted to the cause of Christ.
After the death and resurrection of Jesus, St. Jude traveled throughout Mesopotamia for a period of ten years preaching and converting many to Christianity. He was the last surviving apostle.
St. Jude died a martyr's death. It is our Church's custom to represent the saints with the tool or weapon of their martyrdom. You will note that in all his illustrations, St. Jude holds a club. Tradition tells us that he was clubbed to death and then cruelly decapitated. St. Jude's body was brought to Rome and placed in a crypt in St. Peter's Basilica. Pope Paul III, in a brief dated September 22, 1548, granted a plenary indulgence to all who would visit his tomb on the day commemorating his death, October 28, his feast day. This is very significant, for plenary indulgences were rarely granted in the Middle Ages. This is evidence that devotion to him was held in high esteem during the Middle Ages.
In addition, strength to his devotion was given by Our Lord to St. Bridget of Sweden. In a vision, Our Lord directed St. Bridget to turn to St. Jude with great faith and confidence and thereafter, devotion to St. Jude was revived.
St. Jude Thaddeus is known as the "Saint of impossible (or hopeless) cases". Nine-day novenas to St. Jude are encouraged during situations of extraordinary difficulties. It is beneficial to attend Mass and receive Holy Communion during your novena.
Most holy apostle St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the name of the traitor who delivered thy beloved Master into the hands of His enemies has caused thee to be forgotten by many, but the Church honors and invokes thee universally, as the patron of hopeless cases, of things despaired of. Pray for me who am so miserable; make use I implore thee, of that particular privilege accorded to thee to bring visible and speedy help where help is almost despaired of. Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive the consolations, and succor of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly___________(Here make your request) and that I may bless God with thee and all the elect forever. I promise thee, O blessed St. Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favor, and I will never cease to honor thee as my special and powerful patron, and to do all in my power to encourage devotion to thee, Amen
May the most just, † most high and most adorable Will of God † be in all things done, praised and magnified † forever and ever. Amen