SAINT JUDE THE APOSTLE
ST. JUDE TIMELINE
End of 1 century BCE Judas Thaddeus was born in Galilee.
27 CE Jesus Christ was crucified; after the ascension Jude and the other apostles began their missionary journeys.
28 CE Jude healed King Abgar of Edessa, converting him and many of his subjects.
50 CE Jude attended the Apostolic Council in Jerusalem.
62 CE Jude returned to Jerusalem from evangelizing to assist in Simeon’s election as second bishop of Jerusalem after the death of the first, their brother James.
65 CE Jude was martyred in Beirut, Lebanon by an angry pagan mob.
Middle Ages Devotion to St. Jude slowly expanded.
1548 (September 22) Pope Paul III granted plenary indulgence in a papal brief to all who visit Saint Jude at his tomb on his feast day, October 28.
20 th century devotion to Saint Jude increased substantially.
1960 (October 28) St. Jude’s Shrine in Pakshikere, Karnataka, India was inaugurated by the bishop of Mangalore, Rt. Rev. Dr. Raymond D’mello.
2008 (November) The Archdiocese of Mexico issued a statement denying Saint Jude’s relation to the protection of criminals and drug-lords.
Although details about the life of Saint Jude remain largely unknown, adherents attest that he was one of the twelve apostles, one of the closest followers of Christ. Legend holds that Saint Jude was born in Galilee to a Jewish family. His father, Cleophas, was martyred for fervently proclaiming the resurrection of Christ. The mother of Jude, Mary of Cleophas, was cousin to Mary, the mother of Jesus. She stands at the foot of the cross during the crucifixion with the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene in John 19:25. In Matthew 27:56 and Mark 15:40 she and Mary Magdalene watch Jesus’s death at a distance with other women. Jude is likely to have spoken both Aramaic and Greek and to have worked as a farmer. He was likely approximately the same age as Jesus. Historian of the early Christian Church, Saint Hegesippus, mentions the involvement of two grandsons of Saint Jude in an incident in the second century, thus the saint was married and had at least one child (“Life of St. Jude” n.d.).
It is most widely believed that Jude was also either the brother or first cousin of Jesus. Saint Jude was brother to Saint James the Less, Saint Simeon, and Saint Joseph; all of whom served as members of Jesus’s twelve closest disciples and are referred to as the adelphoi of Jesus. The Greek term translates literally to “brother;” however, translators and interpreters have produced a wide array of understood meanings of “brethren” in various contexts. Among its 343 occurrences in the Greek New Testament, adelphos has been interpreted to describe various degrees of relation, physically and spiritually. In certain contexts the term has been translated to mean “member of the same religious community,” especially “fellow Christian,” such as in Acts 6:3 and 1 Corinthians 5:11. However, its use in reference to Jude in Matthew 13:55 reads, “are not his brothers [adelphoi] James and Joseph and Simeon and Judas [Jude]?” is more likely a mention of familial relation (Attridge 2006). In this context, “brethren” has been interpreted to mean “natural siblings,” “stepbrothers,” and “cousins.” Therefore, it is widely accepted that Jude had some degree of familial relation to Jesus, likely by blood, and that other members of the family participated in the gospel. Regardless of how Saint Jude was related to Jesus, cousin or brother, the close connection of the saint and Christ is shown in iconography, which often depicts the saint with an image of Christ in his hand, frequently holding it to his heart.
In Greek, the name Ioudas is translated to both “Jude” and “Judas,” both of which are variants of “Judah,’ one of the twelve tribes of Israel that later became the Southern Kingdom during the Divided Monarchy (922-722 BCE). Judah means “praise be to God;” the names Jude and Judas translate roughly to “thanks,” “giving,” and “praise.” In the Greek New Testament translation of Matthew, the saint is referred to as Lebbeus and in the Latin Vulgate as Thaddeus. These are often added to the end of his name to further distinguish him from other individuals of the same name. The surname Thaddeus means “courageous” or “loving.” Thus his name denotes his demeanor as aid to the helpless. Christ is reported to have said that, “he will show himself most willing to give help” and, according to adherents, Christ’s statement has been fulfilled throughout generations as faithful Catholics have turned to the Saint in times of need (“National Shrine of St. Jude” n.d.).
An explicit effort is often made to overtly separate Saint Jude, who is referred to as both Jude and Judas, from Judas Iscariot, the apostle remembered by many as the betrayer of Christ. Thus, among other designations he is referred to as ” Saint Jude, not the Iscariot,” “Saint Jude Thaddeus,” “Jude, brother of Jesus,” Jude of James” or simply “Saint Jude the Apostle.” This distinction can be seen in the Gospel of John’s telling of the Last Supper. After Jesus told the apostles that he would leave them and yet return to those whose hearts were open to Him, Saint Jude posed a question. “Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, ‘Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them’” (John 14:22-23).
The details of Jude Thaddeus’s missionary life are unclear; however, he is said to have played an active role in spreading Christianity following the passion and resurrection of Christ. Evangelizing vehemently, he sought Gentile conversion. Texts from Nicephorus, Isidore, Fortunatus, and Martyrologies from the ancient world assert that the saint evangelized all along the Eastern Mediterranean world. Various legends describe him traveling with Saint Simeon and Saint Bartholomew at various times throughout the ancient land, spreading the gospel, or “the good news” (from the Greek euaggelion) of Jesus Christ . Jude and Simeon are said to have performed miracles, healings, and exorcisms of pagan idols. According to legend, the saints caused demons to flee and idolatrous statues to crumble. There are legends claiming that Thaddeus advocated the Christian gospel from Libya, through Palestine, Mesopotamia, Parthia, and even as far as Armenia.
Saint Jude’s most famous cure is that of King Abgar of Edessa around 29 CE. According to legend, the king sent word to Jesus requesting He come to cure him of his leprosy. When Jesus said that He could not come yet, perhaps in order to test the king’s faith, Abgar sent an artist bid to return with an image of Christ, so that he might at least look upon Him. Upon looking at the face of Christ, the artist was overwhelmed and unable to produce any reproduction of the splendor he saw. Jesus then, moved by compassion, pressed His face to a cloth, preserving His image for the solace of the king. Jesus instructed the Sacred Countenance be carried back to Edessa along with the message that someone would arrive to heal him. The king was entranced by the image and eagerly awaited the healer’s arrival. After Christ’s ascension around 28 CE, the Apostle Saint Thomas sent Saint Jude to complete the mission. Jude traveled to Edessa and cured the king with the power of the Holy Spirit. Having been cured of his leprosy, King Abgar and many of his subjects became followers of Christ, amazed by the Sacred Countenance and the way in which the Holy Spirit moved within Saint Jude to heal and to illuminate so eloquently the gospel of Christ. Iconography of Saint Jude usually depicts the saint holding this Divine Countenance image close to his heart as he wears it around his neck. The golden image of Christ’s face is symbolic of the sublime nature of the Son, the healing powers of the Spirit, Jude’s evangelizing missions, and the close relationship between the saint and the Savior.
After the martyred death of Saint James, the first bishop of Jerusalem, Jude returned to Jerusalem to assist in his brother Saint Simeon’s election as the new bishop in 62 CE. It may have been around this period that Thaddeus wrote an epistle widely attributed to him, the New Testament Letter of Jude, the original recipient of which is unknown. The saint continued his missionary journeys after succeeding in the election of his second brother to the position of bishop of Jerusalem. Tradition holds that Saint Jude suffered martyrdom by an angry pagan mob in Parthia. Some legends say he was clubbed to death and his head shattered with a broad ax, others say that he was shot with arrows whilst on a cross. Several legends add the beheading of the apostle saint after his death. Some time after his martyrdom, the Saint’s remains were transported to Rome and laid to rest in a crypt under Saint Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.
Though he was likely upheld in the early church, veneration of Saint Jude Thaddeus did not begin until the Middle Ages. In a time ravaged by poverty and disease, the desolate often turned to the Church. The laypersons appeared lowly before the privileged, and seemingly more holy, priests. Catholics, desperate for spiritual guidance and deliverance, turned their attention to the apostles, fervently praying for their intercession in their pleas for divine aid. Because of his association with Judas Iscariot and the unavailability of scripture or Biblical lesson to most Catholics, people turned to all other apostles before resorting to Jude. It is perhaps for this reason that Jude became the saint to turn to when all other resources failed, when things seemed hopeless.
In a papal brief on September 22, 1548, Pope Paul III granted plenary indulgences to all individuals who would visit Saint Jude Thaddeus at his tomb on his feast day, October 28. As opposed to partial indulgences, plenary indulgences were believed to fully absolve an individual of all obligations of temporal punishment. The granting of such indulgences was extremely rare. Thus, Thaddeus devotion uniquely allowed for the possibility of living a sinless, worry-free existence; upon death one could bypass punishment in purgatory and be brought immediately to the presence of God.
In times of mass despair, devotion to Saint Jude has been great. War and economic upset of the modern world have historically
caused many Catholics to turn their attention to Thaddeus in hopes of relief. After several centuries of sparse devotion, Saint Jude began to receive large numbers of adherents in the twentieth century. Devotion to Saint Jude intensified amid World War I (1914-1918), the Great Depression (1929-1939), and World War II (1939-1945). Despite its slow beginnings, devotion to Saint Jude has become extremely popular among active Catholics. The popularity of the saint often rivals that of the Virgin Mary.
In recent generations, several areas within the global south have experienced economic and political turmoil. Both have been very evident in Mexico. Ordinary Mexicans have become increasingly beset by natural disasters, disease and infection, the depletion of resources, political instability, and a decline in tourism and economic crisis. Crime rates have been on the rapid rise for several decades. The drug trade in particular has sharply elevated injury and death rates from homicides, kidnappings, and gang violence. Both the Mexican government, which has been unresponsive and ineffective in redressing the calamitous circumstances of the poor, and the Roman Catholic Church, which no longer supports the activist liberation theology movement within its ranks, have contributed to a pervasive sense of powerlessness among impoverished Mexicans. At the same time, those involved in the drug trade, who are the targets of the Mexican police and military, a range of federal drug control agencies in the U.S, and competitor gangs, also lead dangerous and violent lives. Therefore, ironically perhaps, both find appeals to Saint Jude, the saint of desperate situations, to be a way of creating a sense of empowerment and control. While Saint Jude enjoys veneration across a broad spectrum of Catholics in Mexico, devotion is particularly intense in the impoverished barrios. As a result, even the Virgin of Guadalupe, patron saint of Mexico, does not receive as much veneration in her home country as San Judas.
Canonized Saints, those who are officially recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, are understood to hold an especially exalted place in Heaven by virtue of their holy deeds or exemplary faith. They are treated with reverential respect and serve as models for living a life of Christ and as intermediaries between humans and God. According to the Holy See, “the ultimate object of veneration of the Saints is the glory of God and the sanctification of man by conforming one’s life fully to the divine will and by imitating the virtue of those who were preeminent disciples of the Lord” (Vatican 2001:2,6,212). This means that acts and prayers of veneration are always ultimately directed to God and veneration is clearly distinguished from worship theologically. Nonetheless, as with other canonized saints, St. Jude, plays a central role in the daily religious observances of countless Roman Catholic faithful. One distinguishing feature of veneration of St. Jude, is that he has been widely adopted as a folk saint in Mexico by a variety of marginal, disadvantaged groups. Such veneration is rejected by the Roman Catholic leadership.
To devotees, Saint Jude is more than merely a distant intercessor between humanity and the Divine; he is a loving friend, protector, and guide, one who always remains by one’s side, especially in the most desperate of situations when one is in most need of emotional and spiritual support. Christ is Savior of all humanity; Saint Jude is a protector of those in need. Adherents turn to Saint Jude for assistance with a wide range of problems, such as drug and alcohol addictions, troubled personal relationships, employment and financial difficulties, mental and physical health issues, and everyday personal tribulations. Any time that the faithful feel the need for support, they can turn to the saint and carry on with life with a renewed sense of hope and protection.
Saint Jude is noted as a defender of purity; he assists in retaining or regaining virtue. This attribute is likely due to his identification
with the Letter of Jude, which speaks against immoral actions, especially those of sexual nature. At the time, these warnings were most likely in reference to pagan rituals. He called for cleanliness in faith, morality, and action at a time in which false teachings and heretical thought and action threatened the Church.
Saint Jude is also the patron saint of hospitals, particularly children’s hospitals. This association with hospitals is likely due to his healing ministries throughout the ancient world, particularly his healing of King Abgar in Edessa, as well as his patronage as saint for impossible causes. For this reason, children’s hospitals are often dedicated to the saint. Saint Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital is perhaps the most well known institute named after the saint in the United States.
Thaddeus’s status as patron saint of desperation and purity alludes to the saint’s namesake, Judah, “thanks be to God.” After the southern kingdom of Judah had fallen along with the Temple in 586 BCE, the Jewish people were forced to live in Babylonian exile. Having lost the physical representation of their covenant with God, the Promised Land, many Hebrews felt abandoned and began to question their faith. Questions regarding purity, worship, and the Law arose for which there were no answers. In response to individuals’ and communities’ answers to these questions, many saw the need to cleanse the faith of heresy and impurities. They preached the importance of returning to the Law and remaining pure in both faith and action. Much as the Hebrew people, thrown into an unknown world and forced to start anew, sang songs of lament, seeking solace and deliverance, adherents of Saint Jude pray for the saint’s guidance and intercession during unsure times in their lives. Just as members of fallen Judah advocated the need for purity and right faith and action, Saint Jude stands as a defender of purity, faith, and action.
In recent years, criminals, particularly those involved in the drug-trade, are known to use San Judas iconography to protect themselves against law enforcement and other rivals (McCoy 2012; Valdemar 2010). Thaddeus’s iconography is seen as a symbol of loyalty and power. He is therefore representative of core ideals found in gang and criminal life. Loyalty to one’s one group in the face of rivals and maintaining a sense of controlling power in otherwise uncontrollable circumstances of life are fundamental to such lifestyles. San Judas Tadeo embodies these ideals in the eyes of devotees, likely due to the Letter of Jude’s call for obedience under Christ and the apostle’s demonstrations of power through the Holy Spirit in his missionary journeys.
October 28 is Saint Jude’s Feast Day in the Roman Catholic Church. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the corresponding date is June 19. On this day, prayers are spoken for the saint one venerates, Mass is celebrated in the saint’s name, and special scriptural passages may be read. Adherents meditate upon the life and teachings of Jude Thaddeus during his Feast Day and are to embody the lessons to be learned from the saint in order to improve their spiritual lives. Although these particular days are set apart for the saint on the Roman Catholic Church calendars, devotion to Saint Jude is extremely popular throughout the year. Adherents turn to him daily; his popularity rivals that of the Virgin Mother.
Help from the saint can be invoked through candles and prayer. Adherents can offer Mass to the saint or complete a triduum or novena in his honor. A triduum is three consecutive days of Mass or prayer; a novena is nine. When completing a triduum or novena in honor of a particular saint, prayers dedicated to the recipient saint, as well as the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and Virgin Mother, are spoken and meditated upon. One may also receive intercession from the saint by taking the Eucharist or by completing some other faith-filled task within or outside of the Church in honor of the saint. Such tasks include charity, undertaking duties within the Church, and works of mercy.
Shrines have been devoted to Saint Jude around the world. They serve as pilgrimage sites and destinations for letters and ex-votos, or letters of thanks to the saint. Regular Catholic Mass and special Masses devoted to Jude are also held, along with special novenas or festivals. Relics of the saint can be found in Saint Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City; Rheims, France; and Toulouse, France.
Iconography of Saint Jude often depicts the saint in green and white Biblical clothing. He holds a golden image of Christ tied
around his neck next to his heart. The halo of light around the saint’s head serves as a symbol of his holiness. In one hand he typically holds either a halberd or a shepherd’s staff. The halberd is symbolic of the saint’s martyrdom; it is noted as the instrument of his death in several traditions. The shepherd’s staff is symbolic of the Letter of Jude’s warnings against false teachers and advice to follow in the way of Christ morally and spiritually as well as his comfort for those who have lost hope. It alludes to the saint ushering the desolate and mistaken back into right faith and action and sense of hope. Saint Jude is also commonly depicted with a flame atop his head, representative of his presence with the other apostles at the Day of Pentecost on which Christ sent the Spirit to the apostles as He had promised prior to His ascension. As told in Acts 2, the twelve apostles gathered together for the Jewish feast, celebrated fifty days after Passover, and the Holy Spirit descended upon them. They became filled with the Spirit and began to speak in tongues, baptized by the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Saint Peter explained to the confused crowds that they were being empowered by the Spirit and preached about Christ and God’s plan of salvation through Him. Amazed by his Spirit-driven preaching, the crowd repented and the apostles baptized 3,000 people on this Day of Pentecost, fifty days after the resurrection of Christ.
In contemporary Mexico, San Judas is specially honored on every 28th day of every month. Adherents bring candles, iconography, and prayers and thanks. Most carry statues of San Judas or other images of the saint to be blessed and spiritually recharged. October 28 is a time of special celebration. Many devotees arrive the night before in anticipation of the festivities and the blessings to be received. Ceremonial dances are performed in front of Saint Jude images with devotees playing drums while clad in traditional indigenous dress and makeup. Some even seek to embody his virtues by dressing as San Judas, donning long white tunics with green sashes draped across the right shoulder. Latin American artists have used music to show their devotion to San Judas Tadeo, mariachi style. Others have even made rap and hip-hop song in honor of Saint Jude. Mi Santo San Judas Tadeo by Cano and Blunt, San Judas Rap by Cinco/Nueve, and Pa San Judas Tadeo are among these modern devotionals.
Saint Jude is regarded as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church, Anglican Church, Eastern Catholic Churches, Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Coptic Christian Church. His influence has been worldwide. There are shrines dedicated to him in Brazil, Puerto Rico, the United States, the United Kingdom, India, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Australia. For instance, established by Father James Tort of the Claretian Missionaries in 1929 in an attempt to uplift the spirits of his parishioners, The National Shrine of Saint Jude brings adherents and their letters from around the world to the South Side of Chicago. Five times a year, the Solemn Novenas to Saint Jude take place at the Shrine, drawing an even larger number of adherents. The shrine and general devotion to the saint became particularly popular during the tumultuous periods of the Great Depression (1929-1939) and World War II (1939-1945) (“National Shrine of St. Jude” n.d). Halfway across the world, Rt. Rev. Dr. Raymond D’mello, Bishop of Magalore, inaugurated St. Jude’s Shrine in Pakshikere, Karnataka in Southwestern India on October 28, 1960. Constructed on a secluded hill in a forest location, the shrine initially was accessible only on foot. Despite the arduous effort required to reach the Shrine, it attracted numerous pilgrims to the small hamlet (“St. Jude Thaddeus Church” 2010).
There are a number of issues surrounding St. Jude and veneration of him: his actual identity and religious status, authorship of the Letter of Jude, and the adoption of St. Jude as a patron saint by dispossessed and criminal elements of the Mexican population.
Because information concerning the life and ministry of Jude Thaddeus is fragmentary, much of what is believed about him comes from tradition and legend. As a result, accounts of St. Jude’s life appear vague or differ in detail. Jude Thaddeus also was a marginal figure during some historical periods because of his name association with Judas Iscariot. For several generations he was referred to only as Thaddeus or Lebbeus when he was mentioned at all. Ardent devotion to Saint Jude was rare until the Middle Ages, and devotion did not begin to skyrocket until the twentieth century. Finally, his status within the Roman Catholic Church is sometimes misunderstood. Because veneration as a saint began before the twelfth century’s official canonization processes were instituted, Thaddeus was never officially canonized as a saint in the Roman Catholic tradition. Prior to the instillation of canonization procedures, popular acclaim as well as priestly approval were sufficient to declare an individual saintly.
There is debate over whether or not the Letter of Jude was actually written by Jude Thaddeus. Although the author identifies
himself in the epistle’s opening as Judas, servant of Christ and brother of James, it has been believed that it could have been written by someone else. Judas was a very common name throughout biblical times, especially in Jewish lineages stemming from the Tribe of Judah. It was also common in antiquity for an individual to attribute their written work to another in order to give their text authority (pseudepigraphy). In such cases, the original author would write in the style of the implied author, often embracing their teachings from previous writings. Individuals and communities were thereby able to have their ideas received through the voices of others who were already widely esteemed. There are other biblical examples. For instance, of the fourteen New Testament letters that have been attributed to Paul, only seven are regarded as authentically Pauline, six are disputed and are described as Deutero-Pauline, and one is rejected as being truly Pauline. Despite these arguments, research has shown it to be entirely possible for Jude Thaddeus to be the original author of the Letter of Jude. The epistle therefore could be one of the earliest Christian writings from the Judeo-Christian community of first century Palestine possessed by the canon.
Certainly the most controversial aspect of veneration of St. Jude has been the recent growth in devotion by Mexican drug-dealers, criminals, and marginalized youth. Members of these groups frequently pray to Saint Jude and display iconography of the saint in order to protect themselves and their merchandise from rivals and law enforcement (Leem 2001). Altars including statues of the saint in a wide array of sizes and styles along with votive candles are commonplace. Images of the saint are also found on dashboards, windows, jewelry, clothing, and tattoos. Examples abound. In August, 2004, a house in Mexico City that was being used by a drug cartel as a drug processing laboratory was raided by the Mexican Army. Several Saint Jude amulets were discovered along with an amulet to Santa Muerte, alcohol, computers, and pornography (Freese 2013). In January, 2006 in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico next to a shrine to Saint Jude three men were executed, their bodies placed in a truck, and the truck set on fire as a warning by one drug-gang, whose patron saint was St. Jude, to another (“Nuevo Laredo Gunmen” 2006). On March 16, 2012, state police pulled over a driver in what was described as a routine traffic stop near Moriarty, New Mexico on Interstate 40. When the driver acted suspiciously, the officers investigated further. A drug-search trained dog led the policemen to 300 pounds of marijuana stuffed inside of a propane tank. Tucked between the hidden bricks of marijuana was a Saint Jude prayer card that had been placed there, presumably for protection (Westervelt 2012; Sergio 2012).
As the patron saint of lost causes, Saint Jude serves as a nonjudgmental protector and spiritual ally. In this context, Saint Jude has
often been a popular saint of rehabilitation programs and self-help development. With his shepherd’s staff, he is there to usher
lost individuals back onto the right moral path. Some Catholic priests in Mexico have sought to use veneration of St. Jude as a path back to more socially acceptable behavior. Most of the young adults involved in criminal actions, particularly the drug trade, emerge from poverty-stricken backgrounds. Given the well-established veneration of St. Jude among ordinary Catholics, it is not surprising that many youth have grown up turning to Saint Jude for assistance in desperate and hopeless situations. During monthly celebrations of Saint Jude, groups of youth can be seen inhaling chemical-soaked cloths or tissues outside of certain churches in poverty-stricken areas. Prior to entering the doors with their Saint Jude statues to give their devotion to the saint, these youth get high on inhalants, likely to gain a more moving spiritual experience with God.
San Hipolito is particularly popular for monthly Saint Jude devotion among some of the poorest Mexico City barrios where disaffected youth live. Many attendees openly acknowledge a personal connection with criminal activities and drug use. They carry their Saint Jude statues into the church to give devotion to the saint. They bring the statues to have them blessed and to allow them to spiritually recharge so that the power of Saint Jude remains potent. Reverend Rene Perez of San Hipolito Church hopes to channel this popular devotion among these troubled youth to more orthodox practices. Father Frederick Loos went one step further. He delivers sermons to groups of devotees consisting largely of marginalized youth at monthly Saint Jude devotional services at San Hipolito Church. Father Loos uses expletive-filled modern parables that help attendees relate the gospel to their current lives. He sees such action as necessary in order to connect with the youth. As he put the matter, “When you go to China you have to speak Chinese. If you’re speaking to kids you use their idioms. I don’t think God is offended if it brings them closer to him” (Lacey 2010). By speaking to youth in barrio slang, Reverend Loos seeks to take advantage of the faith adherents already profess. Despite the heavy drug use outside the Church doors, both Reverends Loos and Perez assert that such activity ceases upon entrance. Drugs are collected in collection baskets from those willing to give up their addictions in favor of a more spiritual and pure life. Reverend Loos then sets fire to the offered drugs ( Bronsnan and Szymaszek. 2010 ). This act symbolically connects the renunciation of vices to the baptismal fire of the Day of Pentecost. From a doctrinal standpoint, the youth become cleansed of their past lives and prepared to live in the gospel, just as Saint Jude, who they hold in their arms, was cleansed by the Spirit, preparing him for his missionary journeys.
While there are such cases of seeking to include disaffected youth in the church, the Roman Catholic Church has most often simply strongly rejected any association of St. Jude with protecting criminal activity as a tainting of the Apostle Saint, patron of purity. Jude preached of following the way of the gospel and the Letter of Jude describes the importance of living in accordance with the faith. Furthermore, raised as a first century Jew, Jude would have believed in actions only in accordance with Hebrew Law (Torah) and ethics, as did Jesus. In November, 2008, The Archdiocese of Mexico issued a statement denying the Saint’s association with the protection of criminals. It clarified: “In no way would this saint be interceding before God in heaven for those who act contrary to the commandments of Christ, violating the precepts of Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not commit adultery” (“Archdiocese of Mexico City 2013). From an official Roman Catholic position, then, any inference that Saint Jude Thaddeus offers divine protection to criminals is fundamentally contrary to the missionary work and teachings of the saint. Many ordinary Catholics share the official perspective. For instance, when interviewed by National Geographic about criminal veneration of San Judas, devout Catholic adherent to Saint Jude, Daniel Bucio, said, “They sully the name of Our Lord and St. Jude’s too—who have nothing to do with this narcotráfico thing” (Guillermoprieto 2010).
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Valdemar, Richard. 2010. “Patron Saints of the Mexican Drug Underworld.” Police Law Enforcement Magazine, June 1 . Accessed from http://www.policemag.com/blog/gangs/story/2010/06/patron-saints-of-the-mexican-drugs-underworld-part-one.aspx on 24 May 2013.
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Westervelt, Celina. 2012. “Holy Saint Ties Cartel to Drug Bust.” KRQE News 13. Accessed from http://www.krqe.com/dpp/news/crime/holy-saint-ties-cartel-to-drug-bust on 24 May 2013.
David G. Bromley
26 May 2013