Very little is known about our patron saint with any certainty. We do know that he was possibly a cousin of Jesus, a brother to St. James the Lesser, and certainly one of Jesus’ early disciples. We don’t know the circumstances of his becoming a disciple, but we can imagine that Jude heard Jesus preaching and was moved by what he heard – God loves everyone!
For some time Jude followed Jesus as he went about Galilee preaching. Jesus chose Jude as one of his 12 Apostles. In Luke’s listing of the 12 (6:16) Jude’s name appears. In Matthew (10:3) and in Mark (3:18), the name Thaddeus is used. That is why we call our patron, Saint Jude Thaddeus.
We have no clear record of where St. Jude served the growing Catholic Church in the first century. Some sources within the patristic tradition claim that St. Jude preached the Good News in Judea, Samaria, Syria, Mesopotamia and Libya. It is also likely, because of such strong devotion to Saints Simon (Bartholomew) and Jude in Armenia, which seem to have been established before the Fourth Century, that St. Jude did indeed preach the Gospel there as well. He shares his feast, October 28th, with Saint Simon, presumably because they preached and died together in Syria around the year 65 AD.
Many pictures of St. Jude show him with a flame over his head – a reminder that the Holy Spirit came upon him in tongues of fire at Pentecost. (Acts 2:3) He is also represented carrying an image of Jesus – a reminder that each of us is to bring Christ to others. Other attributes or symbols that accompany images of St. Jude include an axe (symbolic of his martyrdom be being beheaded), a boat, and an oar. St. Jude is known as the Patron of seemingly impossible or lost causes and desperate situations. He is also the Patron of many other cities and organizations like the Chicago Police Department, St. Petersburg, Florida, Cotta, Rio de Janeiro, and the Philippines among others.