On 28 October, Catholics celebrate the feast of Saint Jude. Though not the best known apostles of Jesus, today he is one of the most popular saints.
He is the Saint of lost causes, which is why people often turn to him for intercession during difficult times. But why is Jude associated with this particular patronage?
Read on to learn why Jude is the saint of hopeless causes plus more about this apostle.
What You'll Learn Today
Who Is Jude In The Bible?
The New Testament has mentions of several Judes.
- Jude, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus (Luke 6:13-16). Like many of the other apostles, Jude goes on to become a missionary, spreading the gospel in faraway lands.
- Jude, also known as Judas but clearly distinguished from Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus (John 14:22).
- Jude, possibly the brother Jesus (Matthew 13:55).
- Jude, the author of the epistle of Jude.
The New Testament doesn’t talk much about Jude, so his identity is still up for debate. But Catholics generally believe that the above four mentions refer to the same person.
Jude is also known as Jude Thaddaeus, Judas Thaddaeus, and Jude of James.
What’s not debated is that St. Jude, the saint of lost causes, was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus and one of the greatest missionaries during the early church. Whether he is the same Jude mentioned in other places in the New Testament is not very important.
Why Is St. Jude The Saint of Lost Causes?
So how did Jude come to bear the honor of being the patron saint for hopeless causes?
There’s no obvious reason why St. Jude was named the saint for lost causes. I looked around and found three possible explanations.
Jude, the Often-Ignored Saint
The first arises from Jude’s confusion with Judas Iscariot. Jude is the same name as Judas. It’s thought that early English translations of the Bible opted to use the name Jude to prevent confusion.
But in the early church, people often thought Jude (his name would have been Judas) was the same Judas who betrayed Jesus.
So many Christians did not invoke him in their prayers, thinking they would be praying to the betrayer of Christ.
Only in desperate circumstances did people ask Jude to intercede for them. Thus, he became known as the saint of lost, hopeless or desperate causes.
Healing King Abgar
The second explanation comes from ancient writings about a miracle performed by Jude.
During the life of Jesus on earth, King Abgar of Edessa.
The King was sick (possibly from leprosy) and sent a letter to Jesus. He’d had of the miracles Jesus was performing and wanted Jesus to heal him.
Jesus sent a letter back saying he couldn’t travel to meet him but that he would send his disciple.
After Jesus ascended to heaven, Jude traveled to Edessa where he healed the King. The King was so pleased that he converted, becoming one of the earliest Christian kings.
This miraculous act when the King had no other recourse is possibly one of the reasons St. Jude is the saint of lost causes.
In some places, Jude is also venerated as a patron saint of hospitals.
The Epistle of Jude
The third possible reason that St. Jude is the patron for desperate cases is his message in the Epistle of Jude.
The one chapter book dwells mostly on false prophets and teachers who are misleading believers and causing divisions.
In the letter, Jude exhorts believers to stand firm in their faith regardless of what they are facing.
Jude 1:20-21: But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.
This encouragement to have unwavering faith is likely why people associate him with hopeless causes.
How To Pray To St. Jude ?
When you are at your lowest and feel like there’s no hope, pray to St. Jude to intercede for you.
You can use your own words in prayer or recite one of the many prayers to St. Jude.
Why Does St. Jude Have A Flame?
St. Jude is one of the saints most commonly depicted in pictures and artwork. He is often shown with a flame on his head.
This is in reference to the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came down on the disciples.
Why Is St. Jude Shown With A Club?
In other artworks, St. Jude is shown holding a club or an ax in his hand.
This is in reference to his martyrdom. He was killed in Beirut, along with Simon the Zealot, with an ax or club.
In some artworks, you may also notice Jude holding a medallion with a face on it. If you look closely, it’s the face of Jesus, not Jude.
This is called the ‘Image of Edessa’. It refers to the alleged piece of cloth onto which Jesus pressed his face.
It is said that Jude carried the cloth, now bearing the face of Jesus, to the King of Edessa and used it to heal him.
The Other Saint of Lost Causes
St. Jude is not the only saint of lost causes.
Rita of Cascia was a widow as well as a nun. She joined an Augustinian community after the death of her abusive husband.
In 1900, she was canonized by Pope Leo XIII and given the title ‘Patroness of Impossible Causes’.
But in most countries, she is better known as the saint of abused women and mourning or heartbroken wives.
Are you looking for more information about other Catholic saints? Here’s an interesting article about St. Anthony.