October 28th is the feast of Saint Simon the Zealot and Saint Jude Thaddeus, two of the twelve Apostles named by Jesus. They share a common feast day because, according to later tradition, they ministered in Persia and there, received the crown of martyrdom on the same day in c. 65 AD. In Matthew and Mark, Simon is referred to as the Cananean. Luke calls him the Zealot, perhaps due to his zeal in upholding the Law, or perhaps he was a member of the radical Jewish sect so named. This designation helped to distinguish him from fellow Apostle, Simon Peter. After Christs’ Ascension and the Council of Jerusalem, Simon preached the Gospel in Egypt, Carthage, Spain and possibly Britain, before going to Jerusalem. There, he joined Jude on missionary journeys to Syria, Mesopotamia and Persia. Popular piety attests that he was sawed in half and devoured by lions. Simon is most often depicted in art with a saw, the instrument of his martyrdom.
Saint Jude or Judas, also called Thaddeus or Lebbeus, wrote the New Testament Epistle that bears his name. Scripture identifies him as “the brother of James,” and it is generally believed that this is Saint James the Less. It is probable that Jude was a childhood companion of Jesus as it is widely held that Jude was the nephew of the Blessed Mother and a cousin of Christ. In the Gospel of John, at the Last Supper, Jude asks Jesus why he does not manifest himself to the whole world. Jesus replies: [to Jude and to us) “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.”
The Apostle known as the patron of impossible causes, ordered demons out of pagan temples and once miraculously healed a pagan king by showing him an image of Christ and proclaiming the Name of Jesus over him. St. Jude, together with St. Simon, is credited with converting the Persian King Varardach and his court to the Faith. Several accounts contend that Jude was crucified as an example to perspective converts, but most hold to the tradition that he was beaten and beheaded. He is frequently depicted holding the face of Christ and a club, the means of his martyrdom. In some depictions, a flame extends from his forehead, symbolizing the power and action of the Holy Spirit.
O God, through the work of the Apostles You have spoken your Word of love, your Son, into our world’s deafness. Open our ears to hear; open our hearts to heed; open our will to obey, that we may proclaim the Good News with our lives. Almighty Father, graciously grant, through the intercession of Saints Simon and Jude, that the Church may constantly grow by increase of the peoples who believe in You. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.