St. Jude Biography

St Jude, Apostle and and Patron of Desperate Causes

Saint Jude, listed eleventh in the list of apostles (Luke 6), is named as a relative of James, probably James known as "the less". In some sources he is called "Judas not the Iscariot" (Acts 15) and in the lists of Matthew and Mark he appears to be the same as one Thaddeus, so he is sometimes called Jude Thaddeus. The writer of the New Testament Letter of Jude calls himself "brother of James" but scholars today are not so certain as in earlier times that the apologist writer of this letter is the same as St. Jude the Apostle, because the writing is that of an educated Greek with great command of dogma and doctrine.

St. Jude is often paired with the apostle Simon (called in one place "the Zealot"), and in the Western Church their feasts are celebrated together. In the "Passion of Simon & Jude", a 5th-century hagiographic work, they are paired as early martyrs, having served through many dangerous journeys as evangelists in Egypt, Iran and elsewhere.

From one of the most "obscure" of the apostles (the writer Thomas Hardy even penned a famous novel called Jude the Obscure), St. Jude's name has become remarkably familiar in the last century. It is not entirely clear how the association was made, but in recent years St. Jude has become known as the "saint of desperate causes", sometimes dubbed the "saint of impossible causes". Shrines to him have multiplied around the world as places of healing, and in the Unites States, St. Jude Hospital in Memphis TN has made his name even more famous. Perhaps this remarkable rise in fame reminds us how God "raises up the lowly". May it be so! Amen.

For more information on St. Jude the Apostle, please see the following links:
The Patron Saints Index
The Roman Martyrology
The Catholic Encyclopedia
Novena to St. Jude