Praise, Lord, for Your apostles,
Saint Simon and Saint Jude,
One love, one hope impelled them
To tread the way, renewed.
May we with zeal as earnest
The faith of Christ maintain,
Be bound in love together,
And life eternal gain.
Usually found at the end of the list of apostles, Sts. Simon and Jude are two of the apostles about whom the least is known with certainty.
St. Simon the Zealot
Simon is often identified by his surname Kananaios, which means the “zealous.” St. Jerome translated the surname to identify Simon as coming from the town of Cana, which in turn has led some to surmise that he was the groom in the wedding attended by Jesus and His relatives at which He performed His first miracle. In the Gospel according to St. Luke, his surname is Zelotes which is the source of his epithet “the Zealot.” This has led some to conclude that he was a member of the freedom fighting party that eventually fought the Romans during the First Jewish in A.D. 66.
However, it is not until that time that the Zealots are mentioned as an organization in any historical source. Of course, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence; therefore, just because there is no mention of the Zealot organization does not necessarily mean that it did not exist. It is also possible that Simon was part of some kind of proto-nationalist movement that eventually became the Zealots. The criminals with whom Christ was crucified are referred to as “insurrectionists” in the Gospel according to Mark and Bar Abbas was condemned to death for committing murder in an insurrection. Some have interpreted the surname of Iscariot, as referring to the Sicarii, another group who fought against the Romans using tactics of subterfuge and assassination. Like the Zealots, the Sicarri are not explicitly mentioned by time in historical sources until after the time during which the events recorded in the Gospels took place.
Simon is sometimes identified with Simon, the “brother” of Our Lord. This would make his patronymic, like that of Sts. James the Less and Matthew, bar Aphaeus/Cleopas. However, it is generally agreed that was another Simon, (or Simeon) who succeeded his brother James as bishop of Jerusalem. Therefore, Simon’s patronymic is unknown.
St. Jude Thaddaeus
Jude is an Anglicized form of the Hebrew Judah, and St. Jude was one of three apostles who had this name. The others were the infamous Judas Iscariot and St. Thomas. Since Thomas is a surname meaning twin, there is some tradition that the Apostle’s first name was Judah. He is alternately known as Thaddeus in Gospels according to Matthew and Mark. It is generally accepted that Thaddeus was a surname, meaning “courageous.”
Although tradition states that St. Jude was martyred with a halberd, his statue in St. John Lateran gives him a dagger or some sort of spear as his instrument of martyrdom
Like Simon, Jude is often identified as a “brother” of the Lord. This identification is more commonly accepted than that, especially because in some lists of the Apostles, he is called “Jude, of James.” Some have taken this to mean that Jude was the son of either James, or perhaps even a different James altogether. (James like, Judah, was a common name.) This would make his patronymic bar Yaqov. While it is certainly possible, it is more commonly accepted that he is rather the brother of James, in this case, “James, the brother of the Lord.” (Who is usually identified with St. James the Less.) This would give him the patronymic bar Alphaeus/Cleopas If he is the same person, then he authored the Epistle of Jude, one of the shortest in the New Testament, the author of which identifies himself as “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James.” (1)
Jude is often pictured carrying an image of Christ. This comes from a legend that shortly before Christ’s Crucifixion, He received a letter from King Abgar of Edessa, asking for Jesus to come to Edessa and heal him of a serious illness (usually leprosy). Knowing that His Passion was at hand, Jesus imprinted an image of His face on a cloth or medallion for one of His Apostles to take to Agbar after the Resurrection. This task fell to St. Jude, who traveled to Edessa, healed Abgar and established the first churches there. St. Jude is often venerated as the patron of hopeless cases, perhaps because his position at the bottom of the apostolic register, as well as the similarity of his name to that of Christ’s betrayer (his name is actually the same in Hebrew, and the Evangelists sometimes refer to Jude as “NOT Iscariot”).
Sts. Simon and Jude share a feast for a number of reasons. After Pentecost, Jude preached in Mesopotamia and Simon preached in Egypt. One unlikely tradition is that Simon travelled to Britain and was crucified there. The more likely tradition is that Sts. Simon and Jude joined each other to preach as a team and suffered martyrdom together in what is now Lebanon or Persia. Simon is pictured with a saw because tradition states he was martyred by being sawed in half while alive. More mercifully, Jude Thaddeus was killed with a club, halberd/axe or both They are buried together under the altar of St. Joseph in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.
Te gloriósus Apostolórum chorus laudat!
Sts. Simon and Jude, orate pro nobis!