St. Jude Thaddeus, the Holy Apostle and martyr, considered to be a faithful friend and a family member. He has proved himself time and time again to be a very caring saint. Undoubtedly most of us have various needs to be sought for. Some people may consider some needs are impossible to achieve but spiritual people, know that they are not impossible with the powerful intercession of St. Jude Thaddeus: the patron saint of the impossible. He did not get this title by mere chance; on the contrary, he earned it by proving that he cares about those who pray to him.
Even some of his friends forget in many respects he is very much like all the rest of us. He once lived in this world and was familiar with the problems of our families since he lived in a very respectable family life .He had his good days as well as bad days like most of us. We have very little bio-data about him in the scriptures as well as in the church tradition. But we have been able to cull from various sources so that we can come to know about him as a person who he was, what he did and how he helped with the grace of God. He was a disciple of Christ, later he was selected by Jesus as one of his Apostle, who became a saint. He has lot of sympathy as well as empathy with all of us who are struggling in this valley of tears.
Birth Place: He was born in the village named Paneas, which as later called Caesarea-Phillippi, (Israel) which is also the home of the” woman who had flow of blood for 12 years and was cured by touching the garment of Jesus.(Mt.9:19-22).This city was also called Baniyas. It was located in the north-west of Palestine about 20 miles south of Mount Carmel.
Name: Jude was given the name “Jude Thaddeus “. The meaning of Jude is “giver of joy” and Thaddeus means “The great hearted one”. Hence Jude Thaddeus means the giver of joy the great hearted one .After his call by Jesus and along with the other 11 Apostles Thaddeus would live in Jesus’ presence and share his work and carry his work of spreading the Gospel to distant and unknown lands.
Family: His elder brother who also became a saint known as James the less. These brothers probably lived in a house typical of that region at that time. It would have been a sturdy house built of stones in the secluded valley. The father of Jude was called Alpheus. His mother’s name was Mary. Jude and James were the first cousins of Jesus. After the ascension of Jesus he became the Patriarch of Jerusalem, and was martyred in 62 A.D.
It is most likely Jude and James and their parents had visited the Holy family at least once or possibly several times over the years. The first visit would be after Jesus, Mary and Joseph returned from the temple of Jerusalem, when Jesus was 12 years old. No doubt Jude and James were quite excited when the time came for them to go for their visit. It would be joyful event especially the two sisters, Mary the mother of Jude and James and Mary mother of Jesus who had not seen each other for many years. James and Jude must have been taught at home by their parents to read and write, especially by their mother. They would also faithfully attend the synagogue with their parents. Jude and James would have been familiar with the Old Testament. They also would have been aware of the promised Saviour as the prophet Isaiah prophesized. (Is: 11:1-160)
Social life: Jude and James lived within the closely knit tribal community which had a limited social life at that time. 2000 years ago marriages were contracted between the families of the same village and at an early age, at least in the late teens or early twenties. Those days life expectancy was very short and people did not have the luxury of today with hospitals, doctors, nurses, etc.
Marriage: He was married to a village girl named Mary. They built a house in the same village. He knew the girl from his childhood. Jude and Mary had atleast one child. Jude and his wife Mary worked in the fields as tenants. Manuel work at that time was very hard and the hours of work were longer than today. Crops were not always abundant because unpredictable whether, insects, plagues etc.
Call: The scripture tells (Lk: 6:12-16) us that Jude was a disciple of Christ. The exact details of his call by Christ are not recorded in the scriptures. The training Christ gave for the future missionaries was by sending them two by two to the Jews and to the gentiles. He had the joy in curing the sick by the power of God. He continues to cure the people of their diseases, not to mention the emotional and financial problems as well. His major cure was Abgarus, who was the Governor of city of Edessa.
Cure of the King of Edessa: St Jude is often represented as bearing a replica of our Lord on his breast. The tradition attached to this is as follows: the fame of our Lord’s miracles had reached Abagaro the King of Edessa who was afflicted with leprosy. He had heard of Jesus and sent a messenger begging him to come and cure him. In order that his faith may be tested, our Lord sent word that he could not come just then. Far from being discouraged, the King sent an artist to Jerusalem for the purpose of at least obtaining our Lord’s portrait. But the poor artist baffled by the splendor and brightness of that Face was unable to make any reproduction. Jesus moved by compassion and wishing to console Abagaro held a cloth to his Face on which was left the image of his Sacred Countenance. He then handed it to the artist and asked him to carry it to the King promising to send some one to heal him. Tradition says that this mission was confided to St Jude, who was covered with supernatural splendor. After the Ascension of Jesus, as Jude entered the King’s premises, Abagaro knelt and faltered forth: “Are you he of whom Jesus spoke when he sent me the message, I will send you one of my followers who will cure you of your malady and bring life to you and your subjects”.
St Jude replied: “Because you believed in Him, He sent me to you”.
The King answered: “I believe in Him, and my faith is such that had not the Roman army stood in the way I would have sent my own army against the Jews to rescue Him out of their hands”.
“He fulfilled the will of His Father”, replied the Apostle, “And death could not hold him, for after three days in the tomb. He arose glorious and entered triumphant into Heaven”. When he had thus spoken, the holy Apostle placed his hands on Abagaro who was instantly cured of his infirmity. Many citizens were also healed and several, including the King and his court, were converted. After firmly establishing the Church in Edessa, St Jude visited the whole Mesapotamia. Jude and Abgarus both built Churches and ordained Bishops, priests, presbyters and deacons. He also preached in Syria and Persia, after converting numerous multitudes to Christ, he was martyred there.
His Apostolic Labours: It is said that he not only brought Christianity to Mesapotamia, but civilized the people of that country who were living like wild animals. He then joined St Simon in Libya where the two Apostles diffused the light of the Gosple.
With St Simon the Apostle, St Jude then set out for Persia where he worked zealously and converted thousands who were sunk in degrading and idolatrous practices. The sun worshipers were soon taught to worship the Living God and Christian charity prevailed in a once barbarous country. The Apostles were, however, hampered by two magicians named Zaroes and Arfaxat, who endeavoured to uphold the worship of idols. But the holy Apostles were more than a match for them. In the presence of the Apostles the idols refused to answer, but when the Apostles in the name of God commanded them to speak, they were forced to acknowledge the Saints as the Disciples of the True God. The evil spirits possessing the idols then fled uttering horrible cries and shattering the images.
At this time a powerful army from India was advancing to invade Persia and the Persians under General Vesuduch was preparing to march against them. Great excitement was caused in the camp of the Persian General when the two Apostles arrived. Once again they were confronted by the magicians Zaroes and Arfaxat. Vasuduch, anxious to know the results of the war, asked the Apostles; “We know you are more powerful than our gods, for at your approach the idols fell to the ground. Tell us what the results of this war will be”. The Apostles commanded the evil spirits to answer. Questioned by their priests the idols replied that the war would be long and many would perish. The General felt very sad but the Apostles consoled him by saying that this prediction was wrong and the following day the ambassadors from the Indian army will negotiate for peace. As foretold by the Apostles peace terms were signed, and the General, moved with indignation, ordered that the magicians be put to death. But the Apostles interceded with the Commander and the punishment was averted. The Commander then conducted the Apostles before the King, where also they performed miracles in order to frustrate the veild signs of the magicians who had preceded them.
On one occasion the idolatrous priests and magicians assembling before the king brought forward accusations against the Holy Apostles. The priests held charmed serpents and let them loose upon the Apostles. The Serpents, however, turned upon the priests and bit severely while they allowed the holy Apostles to take them in their hands. Convinced, The King banished the magicians from the Court and he and his nobles embraced the Christian Faith.
Martyrdom: St Jude preached amidst untold sufferings and persecution in Judea, Samaria and Idumia, impressing upon the people the beauty of Christian Charity. No doubt God glorifies St jude by giving him special power to aid all those who wish to preserve their purity.
The time soon arrived when he who was so closely related to his Lord and Master and who had been an intimate friend of his from boyhood, and a faithful follower all through his life, was to join him once more.
The labours and zeal of St Jude incurred the hatred of some of the unbelievers, whom he had come to convert. He was beaten to the extent of being unconscious, his head being finally severed from his body with a blow of a broad axe. His mortal remains now lie in the great basilica of St. Peter, in Rome, and his feast is kept on October 28th. Pope Paul III granted a plenary indulgence to those who visit the Church on his Feast Day.
Though the body of the holy Apostle rests in St Peter’s Rome, his helpful, living charity is evident all over the world where numerous clients experience wonderful help in difficulties and trails of the most hopeless nature.
St Jude is usually represented holding a club as the sign of his martyrdom. The following words taken from the first chapter of his Epistle are often seen on a scroll held in his hand: “Strive manfully for the faith once delivered unto the Saints”. [Verse 3]
Devotion to St. Jude: After the martyrdom of St. Jude, many pilgrims came to his tomb to visit and to pray. Many of those people who had come there had known to him and talked to him during his life. This devotion to him had a special quality of intimacy which seems to have not been lost down through the centuries. The more people cured of their illness through his intercession, the more reputation as a miracle worker spread by word of mouth. People to whom St. Jude had helped whether with a physical cure, or getting a job, finding a soul-mate or birth of a child for the couples or innumerable problems would place before the throne of God.
The other distinctive feature of the devotion to ST. Jude has been constancy with which his clients have thanked him for the favours received from him. People are pleased with St. Jude with plentiful help and in his obvious care and concern about them , especially their gratitude is made public by way of their public testimonials. For the last few years more and more people have been discovering the power of St. Jude’s Shrine at Pakshikere, Patron of the IMPOSSIBLE.