St. Jude, known as Thaddaeus, was a brother of St. James the Less, and a relative of Our Saviour. He was one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus and his attribute is a club. Images of St. Jude often include a flame around his head, which represent his presence at Pentecost, when he accepted the Holy Spirit alongside the other apostles. Another attribute is St. Jude holding an image of Christ, in the Image of Edessa.
Sometimes he can also be seen holding a carpenter's ruler or is depicted with a scroll or book, the Epistle of Jude.
Biblical scholars agree St. Jude was a son of Clopas and his mother Mary was the Virgin Mary's cousin. Ancient writers tell us that he preached the Gospel in Judea, Samaria, Idumaea, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Lybia. According to Eusebius, he returned to Jerusalem in the year 62, and assisted at the election of his brother, St. Simeon, as Bishop of Jerusalem.
Saint Jude is not the same person as Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Our Lord and despaired because of his great sin and lack of trust in God's mercy.
Jude was the one who asked Jesus at the Last Supper why He would not manifest Himself to the whole world after His resurrection. Little else is known of his life. Legend claims that he visited Beirut and Edessa and could have been martyred with St. Simon in Persia.
He is an author of an epistle (letter) to the Churches of the East, particularly the Jewish converts, directed against the heresies of the Simonians, Nicolaites, and Gnostics. Though Saint Gregory the Illuminator has been credited as the "Apostle to the Armenians," the Apostles Jude and Bartholomew are believed to have brought Christianity to Armenia, where Jude was rumored to have later been martyred.
There is some debate about where Jude died, though most Biblical scholars agree he was martyred. He is believed to have been martyred either in Armenia or Beirut.
Following his death, St. Jude's body was brought to Rome and left in a crypt in St. Peter's Basilica. Today his bones can be found in the left transept of St. Peter's Basilica under the main altar of St. Joseph in a tomb he shares with the remains of the apostle Simon the Zealot.
Pilgrims came to St. Jude's grave to pray and many reported a powerful intercession, leading to the title, "The Saint for the Hopeless and the Despaired." Two Saints, St. Bridget of Sweden and St. Bernard, had visions from God asking them to accept St. Jude as "The Patron Saint of the Impossible."
Roman Catholics invoke St. Jude when in desperate situations because his New Testament letter stresses that the faithful should persevere in the environment of harsh, difficult circumstances -just as their forefathers had done before them; therefore, he is the patron saint of desperate cases.
St. Jude is the Patron Saint of Hope and impossible causes and one of Jesus’ original twelve Apostles. He preached the Gospel with great passion, often in the most difficult circumstances. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, he made profound differences in people’s lives as he offered them the Word of God.
The Gospel tells us that St. Jude was a brother of St. James the Less, also one of the Apostles. They are described in the Gospel of Matthew as the “brethren” of Jesus, probably cousins.
St. Jude is traditionally depicted carrying the image of Jesus in his hand. This recalls one of his miracles during his work spreading the Word of God. King Abagar of Edessa asked Jesus to cure him of leprosy and sent an artist to bring him a drawing of Jesus. Impressed with Abagar’s great faith, Jesus pressed His face on a cloth, leaving the image of His face on it. He gave the cloth to St. Jude, who took the image to Abagar and cured him.
After the death and resurrection of Jesus, St. Jude traveled throughout Mesopotamia, Libya, and Persia with St. Simon preaching and building up the foundations of the early Church.
St. Jude died a martyr’s death for his unwavering faith. His body was later brought to Rome and placed in a crypt under St. Peter's Basilica.
After his death, many turned to St. Jude for his intercession in prayer. Jesus inspired the devotion to St. Jude for St. Bridget of Sweden when he directed her in a vision to turn to St. Jude with great faith and confidence. In a vision, Christ told St. Bridget, “In accordance with his surname, Thaddeus, the amiable or loving, he will show himself most willing to give help.”