Friday, October 28, 2016

The Legends of Saints Simon and Jude

In the Breviary of St. Pius V, the lives of the Apostles Simon and Jude are summed up in a single lesson of fewer than sixty words. It is noted that St. Simon was called “the Chananean, also the Zealot”; the term “Chananean” was thought by some of the Church Fathers to refer to Cana of Galilee, where the Lord turned water into wine, but it is simply a hellenization of the Hebrew word “qanna’i – zealous.” St. Thaddeus, more often called Jude, was the author of one of the seven Catholic Epistles. After the Ascension, the former went to evangelize Egypt, the latter to Mesopotamia; they later met in Persia, where they continued to preach the Gospel and were eventually martyred.

The pre-Tridentine Roman Breviary, on the other hand, gives a much more elaborate account of their lives after the Lord’s Ascension. St. Simon is said to have preached the Gospel in many places, which are not specifically named. When St. James the Less was killed by King Herod in 44 A.D., Simon was chosen by the other Apostles to succeed him as bishop of Jerusalem. Having governed the mother church of Christianity for many years, and reached the age of one-hundred and twenty, he was tortured and crucified under the Emperor Trajan. In reality, these stories derive from the life of a different saint with a similar name, Symeon of Jerusalem, who is mentioned by Eusebius of Caesarea (ca. 260-340) in the third book of his Ecclesiastical History.
Chapter 11. After the martyrdom of James and the conquest of Jerusalem … it is said that those of the Apostles and disciples of the Lord that were still living came together from all directions with those that were related to the Lord according to the flesh … to take counsel as to who was worthy to succeed James. They all with one consent pronounced Symeon, the son of Clopas, of whom the Gospel also makes mention, to be worthy of the episcopal throne … He was a cousin, as they say, of the Savior; for Hegesippus records that Clopas was a brother of Joseph.

Chapter 32. (Citing Hegesippus again) Speaking of certain heretics, he adds that Symeon was accused by them at this time; and since it was clear that he was a Christian, he was tortured in various ways for many days, and astonished even the judge himself and his attendants in the highest degree, and finally he suffered a death similar to that of our Lord. But there is nothing like hearing the historian himself, who writes as follows: “Certain of these heretics brought accusation against Symeon, the son of Clopas, on the ground that he was a descendant of David and a Christian; and thus he suffered martyrdom, at the age of one hundred and twenty years, while Trajan was emperor and Atticus governor. … And after being tortured for many days he suffered martyrdom, and all, including even the proconsul, marveled that, at the age of one hundred and twenty years, he could endure so much. And orders were given that he should be crucified.”
The Martyrdom of Saints Simon and Jude
In his famous Golden Legend, Bl. Jacopo de Voragine writes that the confusion between Symeon of Jerusalem and the Apostle Simon was noted by Eusebius, St. Isidore and Bede the Venerable. In the Tridentine reform of the Breviary, therefore, the error was corrected; the story of St. Symeon of Jerusalem was detached from that of the Apostle, and he was given his own feast day on February 18.

In each of the Synoptic Gospels, when the Evangelists give the names of the Twelve Apostles, Simon and Jude appear together at the end of the list, right before Judas Iscariot; Sts. Matthew (chapter 10) and Mark (chapter 3) give his name as Thaddeus, but St. Luke (chapter 6) calls him Jude. St. John does not give a list of the names of the Twelve, but recounts in chapter 14 that Jude “not the Iscariot” at the Last Supper asked Christ, “Lord, how is it, that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, and not to the world?” It with the name Thaddeus that he is mentioned in the Communicantes of the Roman Canon, and by this name he also came to be associated with one of the most beloved stories of the Christian tradition, the legend of King Abgar, and the painting of the Holy Face of Edessa.

The Holy Face of Edessa, often called the Mandylion from the Syriac word for the cloth on which the image was made.
As recorded by Eusebius in the Ecclesiastical History, (I. 13) King Abgar of Edessa suffered from an incurable disease of some kind; having heard of the many healings wrought by the Lord during His earthly ministry, he sent Him a letter asking Him to come to Edessa and heal him. The Lord replied by letter that He would not come personally, but that after His Resurrection, one of His disciples would be sent to cure him; and in due time, the Apostle Thomas sent one of the seventy disciples, a certain Thaddeus, to perform this office. Eusebius gives what purport to be the text of the two letters, which were kept, he claims, in the public archives at Edessa. The story is repeated in a much more elaborate form in an early fifth-century apocryphal work, “The Doctrine of Addai,” in which the name of the disciple sent to King Abgar appears as Addai, rather than Thaddeus.

By the late fifth-century, the so-called Gelasian decree, in the section “on books to be received and not to be received”, (i.e., which may be used in the liturgy), already notes the spurious character of the letters exchanged between Christ and King Abgar. (The decree itself would later be spuriously attributed to Pope Gelasius I, and is commonly called after him.) As is the case with many apocryphal writings, formal rejection did not in the least diminish the popularity of the story, which continued to be embellished in various ways. The Doctrine of Addai simply adds that Abgar’s messenger made a picture of Christ’s face to bring back to the King; by the Bl. Jacopo’s time, the legend states that on receiving the reply of Christ, King Abgar sent a painter to make an image of the Lord’s Face on a piece of cloth. The painter was unable to do this himself, however, “because of the exceeding brightness that came forth from His face”; the Lord Himself therefore took the cloth and laid it over His own face, leaving an impression of the image upon the cloth, which was then taken to Abgar. Among Byzantine Christians especially, the Holy Face of Christ is still to this day the object of great veneration; it is known as the Holy Mandylion, a word which derives from the Syriac “mandil – a cloth.” Although Eusebius clearly says that the Thaddeus of the Abgar legend is one of the seventy disciples, and not one of the twelve Apostles, the Golden Legend and the Roman Breviary of 1529 both identify him with the Apostle called Thaddeus in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, and Jude in those of Luke and John. Because of the association with the King Abgar legend, he is sometimes shown holding an image of the Lord’s face.
 

In modern times, a new devotion has emerged to Saint Jude as the Patron Saint of Lost Causes, the origins of which are quite obscure. There are many variations of the following prayer to ask for his intercession, and it is still a fairly common custom to thank the Saint publicly for his intercession by placing a message of thanksgiving in a newspaper.
Oh glorious Apostle St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the name of the traitor who delivered thy beloved Master into the hands of His enemies has caused thee to be forgotten by many, but the Church honors and invokes thee universally as the patron of hopeless cases--of things despaired of. Pray for me who am so miserable; make use, I implore thee, of that particular privilege accorded thee of bringing visible and speedy help where help is almost despaired of. Come to my assistance in this great need, that I may receive the consolations and succor of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations and sufferings, particularly (mention your request), and that I may bless God with thee and all the elect throughout eternity. I promise thee, O blessed St. Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favor, and I will never cease to honor thee as my special and powerful patron, and to do all in my power to encourage devotion to thee. Amen.

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