October 28th, Feast of Sts. Simon and Jude
Today we celebrate the feast of Sts. Simon and Jude. While Simon was from Cana and is called the Zealot, Jude is known as Thaddeus. This “Jude” is distinct from Judas the Iscariot who betrayed our Lord – this “Jude” is among the “brethren of the Lord”, a cousin of our Savior.
One small disappointment about the new translation is in the rendering of St. Jude’s name in the list of the apostles in the Roman Canon. While the Latin sates Thaddaei, the English reads “Jude”. Certainly, Thaddeus is the same Jude brother of James, the author of the last biblical epistle. Yet, it is rather disheartening that the new English translation follows the old in changing the name from “Thaddeus” to “Jude”.
When we consider the meaning of the name (or rather, the nickname) “Thaddeus”, we will see why the Church has chosen to invoke the Saint under this title during the Mass – and why the English ought to follow this tradition.
The meaning of “Jude”
This apostle is named “Jude” in the lists of Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13. However, in the corresponding listing the names of the twelve apostles in Matthew 10:3 and Mark 3:18, “Jude” is replaced with “Thaddeus”.
It is most likely that “Jude” or “Judas” (since the names are identical in Greek and Hebrew) was replaced with “Thaddeus” as a means of distinguishing him from Judas the Iscariot.
“Jude” or “Judas” is the Greek form of the Hebrew name “Judah”, meaning “praise” or “praised”.
The meaning of “Thaddeus” and “Libbeus”
In some manuscripts, “Thaddeus” is replaced with “Libbeus”. These two names are very closely related and, in fact, are perhaps nicknames.
“Libbeus” is from the Hebrew leb (heart), meaning “hearty”.
“Thaddeus”, similarly, is from the Aramaic root meaning “chest” or “heart”. This name means “full-hearted” in the sense of “generous”, “kind”, and “courageous”. It is especially under this title that St. Jude is invoked as the patron saint of (seemingly) hopeless causes.
Invoking St. Jude as Thaddeus
It was precisely this title or nickname of “Thaddeus” which drew St. Bernard of Clairvaux to promote devotion to St. Jude. The mellifluous doctor carried with him a relic of this apostle throughout his life and even asked to be buried with the relic after death.
When we cry out to St. Jude under the title of “Thaddeus” we are imploring his kind-heartedness and also his great generosity to souls who seek his assistance. Further, we recall that he is so courageous and bold in begging blessing from Jesus in our behalf!
How important it is to pray to St. Jude! We can see why the Church, in the official Latin text of the Roman Canon, chooses to invoke him as Thaddeus. In this respect, we cannot help but be a bit disheartened (literally) that even the new English translation betrays the Latin and names him as Jude.
Nevertheless, since St. Jude is the patron saint of those causes which seem almost hopeless, and since the English translation of the Mass sometimes seems to be just such a cause – perhaps we may entrust this matter to his care and intercession.
St. Jude Thaddeus, Pray for us!