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Catholic Heroes… Saints Simon The Zealot And Jude Thaddeus

October 24, 2017 saints No Comments

By CAROLE BRESLIN

There are two apostles who shared names with yet another apostle: St. Simon, who became Peter, and Simon the Zealot; and St. Jude Thaddeus and Judas Iscariot. These apostles are frequently confused by Christians, but clearly they were different persons.
On October 28, St. Simon and St. Jude, both members of the first twelve apostles, traveled together around the Mideast, preaching the word of God. Their feast is celebrated together because they were martyred in the same place on the same day.

St. Simon The Zealot

St. Simon the Zealot, one of the most obscure apostles, was called Kananaios or Kananites in ancient manuscripts of Mark 3:18 and Matt. 10:4. In Luke 6:15 and Acts 1:13 his name is written as Zeltoes. Although both are translated as zealous because Simon had such great zeal for the Jewish law, St. Jerome claimed he was from Canaan.
Some hagiographers claim that Simon the Zealot, from Galilee, was the bridegroom at the wedding feast of Cana. After our Lord miraculously turned the water into wine, Simon then became an ardent disciple of Christ and thus a zealot for Him. (One priest ventured to say that the reason they ran out of wine was because all the apostles were there.)
This eleventh apostle, with good ancestry, lived in Capernaum and was 28 years old when he began following Jesus. Simon proved his efficiency and organizational skills with his responsibility for the relaxation and recreation of the apostles.
Simon also was respected for his ability to recall Mosaic law and Christian teaching. The apostles turned to him when they found a person unable to make that final step of accepting Christianity. Simon, with his exuberance and enthusiasm for Christ’s message, would win their hearts within minutes of meeting them.
Despite his zeal, he had difficulty overcoming his worldly ways. His passion for political activism was not easily transformed into the peaceful spiritual activism for which he later became well known. Simon was attracted to the serene and patient demeanor of Jesus, and Jesus, seeing the great gifts of the zealous apostle, patiently guided him and watched him develop into the great missionary he became after Pentecost.
Not only did Simon work with those referred to him by the other apostles and disciples of Christ, but he also found great reward in debating Christian doctrine with the Jewish and Greek intellectuals. These legalistic challenges during the early years of the Church after Christ’s Ascension into Heaven were Simon’s special gift to the budding Church.
However, because of his full and unequivocal commitment to the teachings of Christ, he had little patience for those who proclaimed the Gospel with their mouths, but did not embrace it in their hearts by living it out with their actions.
Many sources write of Simon’s travels to Egypt, Cyrene, and Mauritania. If he did preach in those lands, he certainly returned to the East where he also traveled with St. Jude Thaddeus. He then went to Persian, perhaps to Samaria.
He finally went to Suanir where he was martyred by idolatrous priests. He is regarded a saint by the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches.

St. Jude Thaddeus

Jude Thaddeus, an ardent apostle, is not to be confused with Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus. Jude was the son of Cleopas, who died a martyr also. His mother, Mary of Cleopas, stood at the foot of the cross with the Blessed Virgin Mary and helped anoint the Body of Jesus when He was placed in the tomb.
He was the nephew of either Joseph or Mary and may have been a fisherman or a farmer. Traditionally, he has been considered to be the brother of James the Lesser. He was popularly thought to be a descendant of a prominent Jewish family from Paneas — a city which had been rebuilt and named Caesarea of Philippi in Galilee. As with Simon the Zealot, some believe he was the bridegroom at the wedding feast in Cana.
He wrote the Epistle of Jude, one of the shortest books in the Bible. It addresses false teachers and their punishments, God’s judgment, and the theological virtues of faith and charity. Unlike Paul’s letters which were directed to different communities such as the Romans and Corinthians, Jude’s letter was written for the general members of the Church. Most likely, Jude was fluent in both Greek and Aramaic.
According to most historians, Jude spread the teachings of Christ to many lands, including Judea, Samaria, Idumaea (modern southern Jordan), Syria, Mesopotamia, Libya, Beirut, and Edessa.
Considered by many to be the apostle who brought Christianity to Armenia, he is venerated as the patron saint of the Armenian Apostolic Church. A monastery in northern Iran was named after him — the St. Thaddeus Monastery — which is now a UNESCO heritage site. In addition, because he traveled with St. Bartholomew, he is linked to the St. Bartholomew Monastery in southeastern Turkey. It was abandoned during the Ottoman genocide of Armenia, which ended the life of 1.5 million Christians.
St. Jude died around AD 65 in Beirut. He and Simon the Zealot were martyred together, probably by an axe with which Jude is frequently pictured in icons.
After St. Jude’s death, many pilgrims visited his grave, receiving many cures and miracles. This inspired people to beseech him in their hopeless situations. Later his remains were brought to Rome where they were placed in a crypt in St. Peter’s Basilica beside the remains of Simon the Zealot.
Over the centuries he has become known as the saint for the hopeless and desperate or the patron saint of the impossible and lost causes. While devotion to St. Jude waned in the 18th century, it returned in the 19th century, beginning with Italy and Spain. Then it spread to South America and the United States.
His popularity grew quickly with the construction of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital founded in 1962 in Memphis, Tenn. This nonprofit medical corporation was founded by Danny Thomas, a well-known entertainer, who received a special favor after praying to St. Jude. Down to his last dime, he put all he had in an offering at a Mass in Detroit, asking for St. Jude to help show him his way in life and to help him with his entertainment career. He promised that he would do something “big” for St. Jude. The very next day, he was offered a well-paying job and after considerable success, he began the hospital.
The Catholic Church celebrates the feast of both these apostles on October 28.
Dear Saints Simon and Jude, obtain for us by your holy intercession the zeal to proclaim the Gospel, both in word and deed. Especially help us to convert many souls from many walks of life that they too may find the joy of knowing Jesus and His infinite love and mercy. Amen.

+ + +

(Carole Breslin home-schooled her four daughters and served as treasurer of the Michigan Catholic Home Educators for eight years. For over ten years, she was national coordinator for the Marian Catechists, founded by Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ.)

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