By Aileen Atcheson
Saint Jude Thaddeus is the Saint of Hopeless Cases. His name is similar to Judas Iscariot, the traitor among the apostles, so people only prayed to him when their problem looked hopeless and maybe the forgotten apostle would intercede for them.
Saint Jude was one of the original twelve apostles and the brother of Saint James the Less. He may have been a nephew of Saint Joseph too. He would then have been a cousin of Our Lord. He was one of the few considered the ‘Brethren of Jesus’.
Saint Jude wrote the fifth shortest book in the Bible. He also wrote one of the seven ‘Catholic Epistles’. These writings were so called because they did not address a general audience nor congregation. In his Epistle, St. Jude warns the people about the false teachers who were spreading a form of bad morality, trying to undermine the Church’s authority. His criticism is strongly worded and calls these preachers “grumbling murmurers, trees of the autumn which are unfruited, rag bag waves of the sea, foaming out of their own confusion.”
In the Epistle, St. Jude also mentions a fact about St. Michael the Archangel. He tells how the Devil fought over Moses’ remains. Saint Michael the Archangel said: “May the Lord rebuke you.” The Devil wanted Moses’ body be given a grand monument to tempt the Hebrews into idolatry. St. Michael knew Moses would never have wanted this and hid the body.
Saint Jude is said to have preached in Mesopotamia and then in Persia. He teamed up with St. Simon and they spread the faith among the people of that region. The old Monastery of St. Thaddeus in northern Iran, is named after Jude Thaddeus and was once part of Armenia. St. Jude and St. Some share the same feast day, 28th October, and St. Jude is the patron of Armenia.
Saint Jude’s patronage of Lost Causes dates to 1929 when a priest encouraged the devotion among his parishioners in Chicago. On St. Jude’s feast day a great crowd attended the church. The next day, the stock market crashed.
Soon many Americans were turning to St. Jude during the Depression and World War II. The same priest organised the League of St. Jude among the police, and he is the patron of the Chicago Police Department. Also, many people feel desperate and hopeless when they have to go into hospital, so St. Jude is patron of hospital workers and the hospitalized.
Danny Thomas was an actor who was unemployed and down on his luck. He prayed to St. Jude and promised his he would do something big if the saint helped him out. St. Jude kept his end of the bargain, so did Thomas. He founded the famous St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Tennessee, which has transformed the treatment of child cancer round the world.
Saint Jude suffered martyrdom, but is still called upon by people who are suffering hopeless cases.