Saints Simon and Jude: the Value of Piety, Humility, and Obedience

By Kim Bruce

On Oct. 28, Catholics remember Sts. Simon and Jude. Who are they? Though two of the apostles chosen by Jesus to accompany Him and minister to others, their recorded words are few, and they lived humbly in the shadows of the more well-known disciples of Christ. They became saints, nonetheless, and martyrs, giving up their lives heroically for the sake of the Gospel.

Saint Simon is referred to as Simon the Zealot so as not to be confused with St. Peter (named Simon before being renamed “Peter” by our Lord). The only mentions of St. Simon in Scripture are his being called by Christ to be an apostle in Mk 3:18 and Lk 6:15; his presence when voting to replace Judas Iscariot’s spot in Acts 1; and when he is present at Pentecost in Acts 2:14. 

Simon may have belonged to the Zealots  known for their zeal for God’s honor and the purity of the Jewish faith before being called by Christ. This would go along with his attitude and posture after being called as an apostle. The Rev. Alban Butler, a prominent hagiographer (writer of the lives of the saints), says that St. Simon the Apostle possesses “pious indignation toward those who professed this holy faith with their mouths, but dishonored it by the irregularity of their lives.”

It is said that Simon may have preached in Egypt, Cyrene, and Mauritania. His death, brought about by idolatrous priests and believed to be by crucifixion, was in Persia. However, he is depicted with a saw in pictures; some in Western Christianity say he was martyred by being sawed in half.

Saint Jude, St. Simon’s companion, is often called “Thaddaeus” to keep him from being confused with Judas Iscariot, traitor to Christ. “Thaddaeus” means “courageous heart” or “one who praises.” Saint Jude was a relative of our Lord, referenced in Acts 1:13 and Luke 6:16 as “son of James” (the Less), as opposed to James, the brother of John.  [“Son” of James could also be translated here as “brother”.] James the Less was the son of Alphaeus (probably brother to St. Joseph); therefore Jude, whether son or brother to James, probably was a cousin of Jesus.

Not much is said about St. Jude in Scripture, either. However, he does have one line attributed to him at the Last Supper. He asks, “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?” (Jn 14:22) Jesus answers, “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” (Jn 14:23). 

Saint Jude is credited with writing the Letter of Jude, a very short epistle preceding the Book of Revelation. Jude’s letter is wrought with exhortation to remain faithful to Christ and avoid false teachers encouraging lust and corruption, leading to damnation. He challenges the faithful to mercy and correction of those astray, saying, “Have mercy on some who are wavering ... snatching them out of the fire” (Jude 22-23).

Saint Jude travelled to Judea, Samaria, Idumaa, Syria, and Mesopotamia and is credited with spreading the faith in Libya. He is often pictured wearing green, symbolizing hope and renewal, and holding a medallion depicting Christ. A flame above his head represents the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:3). Saint Jude may have died from being beaten, hacked, or beheaded, which is why he is often shown holding a club or axe, while others say he was shot by arrows while tied to a cross.  Saint Jude is venerated as the patron saint of hopeless causes, and many miracles are attributed to his intercession.

Saints Simon and Jude speak to us today of the value of piety, humility, and obedience. They put their former lives aside instantly to follow Christ. It is believed they were martyred together, and both share the same feast day of Oct. 28. Their relics are held at the Vatican in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and in the Cathedral of Toulouse in France.

Saints Simon and Jude, pray for us.

For more on St. Jude, see Fr. Dan Cambra, MIC’s video.
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