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What is the basic biography of Saint Jude?

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Quick Answer

St. Jude, sometimes referred to as Judas Thaddeus, was a relative of Jesus Christ and one of his 12 apostles. Catholic tradition states that the apostle Judas (not Judas Iscariot) and the writer of the Epistle of Jude are the same person.

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Full Answer

Catholic tradition identifies Jude as a brother of James the Less, another of Jesus' apostles. Jude is also thought to be a cousin or even a half-brother of Jesus Christ. Jude's only dialogue in the Gospels is in John 14:22, where he asks Jesus why his worldwide manifestation would not occur after his resurrection.

After Jesus' death, Jude preached in Mesopotamia, Libya, Persia and Armenia. He wrote his self-titled epistle around the year 60 A.D. The letter emphasized the rejection of false teachers, perseverance and faith. He suffered martyrdom around 65 A.D. Jude is sometimes portrayed with an axe as a symbol of how he died. His body was either buried under St. Peter's Basilica in Rome or in an Armenian monastery.

Later saints, including St. Bridget, received visions that pointed to Jude as the patron saint of lost causes and impossible situations. His letter's emphasis on perseverance and faith contributed to Catholics associating those qualities with the saint. St. Jude's presence in Catholic religion increased in the 20th century with the establishment of children's hospitals dedicated to the saint.

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