Have you ever been close to giving up? Does life seem like too much to handle? Consider St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes.
Many of us feel like giving up at some point or another in our lives, but Christ reminds us that He has already overcome this world, and reassures us that we can overcome temptation and despair through the power of His Name. The earliest leaders of the church, the apostles of Christ, were instrumental in spreading the good news of the Gospel to the entire world and teaching others that we can always rely on Him.
While we should not worship these human beings, we can look to them and learn from their example as they looked to their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Jude himself was a sibling of Jesus, and so was able to share from firsthand experience the power of perseverance in His Name.
11 Facts About St. Jude Thaddeus
#1 When did St. Jude live?
Jude lived during the time portrayed in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. He was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples that later became known as the “apostles.”
Tradition also holds that Jude was the son of Mary, who was married to Clopas; this Mary is the cousin of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
#2 Who was St. Jude?
Jude is mentioned in several Gospel accounts as one of the twelve disciples, but in others, a man named Thaddeus is identified instead. Tradition holds that they are the same person. He is further identified as the brother of the second apostle named James (not to be confused with James who was identified with his brother John as “the sons of thunder” and was part of Jesus’ inner circle). This James wrote the Epistle of James that is part of the Christian Bible.
There is also debate between Protestants and Catholics as to whether or not Jude was a brother of Jesus Himself. Catholics hold that he was, while Protestants do not believe so.
#3 How did Jude contribute to the early church?
In addition to his ministry during the life of Jesus Christ, as an apostle, he was critical to the rapid growth of the early church after Jesus was resurrected and ascended into heaven. He was said to have preached in Judea, Samaria, Idumea, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Libya. His ministry reached across the region of Palestine and into Africa.
#4 What is the subject of the book of the Bible he wrote?
The Book of Jude is part of the canon of Scripture for the Christian church. It is believed to have been written between the years 70 and 90 and is placed just before Revelation as the next-to-last book of the Bible.
The subject of the book of Jude is a warning against false teachers or those who proclaim a false gospel. Readers are commended to hold fast to the true Gospel.
#5 How did he die?
Tradition holds that Jude was martyred in the year 65 in the Roman province of Syria, near modern-day Beirut in Lebanon. He was said to have been killed by an ax; many icons depicting St. Jude show him holding an ax.
#6 How did he continue to impact the early church?
Those who engaged in pilgrimages to places of faith sought out the grave of St. Jude, asking for his intercession on their behalf. Their plights were supposedly received and offered to Jesus by Jude, giving him the title of “the saint for the hopeless and despaired.”
#7 When was he canonized?
As an apostle of Jesus, Jude became one of the first saints to be canonized. He is also recognized as the patron saint of the Armenian Apostolic Church due to his founding and early ministry with that denomination, along with Bartholomew.
His feast day is October 28.
#8 How does someone become a saint?
After a person has died, their life is investigated by an official expert authorized by the Church. Their initial report is submitted to the bishop of their diocese and further investigation is performed. They may then submit the individual to the office of the Pope for recognition by the universal church. If this recognition is granted, they will have been venerated by the Church, and are given the title “Venerable.”
The next level involves further research, and if warranted the person is beatified and is given the new title “Blessed.”
The final level of investigation determines whether or not miracles were performed. Proof of at least two miracles performed by God through this person must be verified. Once this is proven, the Pope may canonize this person as a saint through a public proclamation.
This process was institutionalized much later in the Catholic Church; early champions of the faith, including key biblical figures, were automatically canonized by the first meeting to authorize universal sainthood.
#9 How is he honored in the Catholic Church today?
The Order of the Dominicans began working in Armenia in the 12th century, where St. Jude was already very prominent in Christian circles. The continued impact of the Dominicans carried over into the Americas, centering in North American around Chicago. The Chicago Police Department has made him their patron saint, as well as several soccer teams around the world.
#10 What about St. Jude makes him the patron saint of lost causes?
Because Jude advocated remaining faithful to Jesus in the midst of persecution or false teaching, he is the patron saint of lost causes and desperate situations. Martyrs find themselves in such dire straits when holding fast to their profession of faith seems impossible, so the notion of steadfastness being a “lost cause” became identified with Jude because of the contents of his letter.
Another tradition is that Christians who prayed to the apostles refused to pray to Jude because his name was too similar to that of Judas Iscariot. Feeling ignored, Jude was supposedly eager to help anyone who required assistance, even interceding in the direst circumstances, including the most desperate of lost causes.
#11 Is there any connection to the St. Jude Children’s Hospital?
Danny Thomas, the founder of the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, was also a famous radio broadcaster and actor. However, he sought out a greater purpose and calling in life, and prayed to St. Jude. He vowed, “Show me my way in life, and I will build you a shrine.”
After he gained widespread fame in the entertainment industry, he poured his wealth into the now-famous hospital. They are well known for never accepting payment from families for their services, and for tackling seemingly impossible diagnoses and the rarest conditions. In this way, the legacy of St. Jude is carried forward as parents whose children seem to be “lost causes” can now find hope through the medical research and treatments offered by the hospital.
Jude’s fierce devotion to the truth of the Gospel in the face of great adversity makes him the ideal candidate as the patron saint of the impossible. His impact today has been perpetuated through his adoption by religious and social orders of various kinds, and he remains a faithful witness to Jesus in all things.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.