It is more than forty years now that I spent a year as a volunteer worker at a special school with the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. To a twenty year old nominal member of the Church of England life among the sisters was an encounter with a different world, there seemed no moment in the day when there was not a prayer for something.
To embark upon a journey in the school minibus with more than one of the sisters meant to experience a litany of prayers to a range of saints. The number of those among the blessed called upon for assistance on the journey was sometimes worrying, could a journey from Cranleigh to Guildford be so hazardous?
Despite having a feast day on 28th October, being remembered along with Simon the Zealot, Jude did not feature in the litany. Saint Jude was the patron of lost causes. Jude would only be invoked if every other prayer had failed.
In former times, it seems that when calling on the saint people avoided Jude for fear that it was thought that they were calling upon Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus to the authorities in the Garden of Gethsemane.
It seems an odd theological thought, that the saints, whose prayers were being sought by despairing humans might not know if they were the right person. Even odder that the omniscient deity, whose help was believed to be the only remedy left, might ignore someone because they might not have been sufficiently specific about who they were asking.
As it is, Jude is remembered as a minor figure. He is coupled together with Simon the Zealot because they are said to have both died martyrs’ deaths in Beirut in 65 AD. They do not seem to have been regarded as individually meriting their own feast day.
Perhaps Jude is an early example of what happens when you don’t have a good publicist.
Jude seems to have travelled extensively in his efforts to tell people of Jesus of Nazareth and there is no suggestion that he was anything other than as zealous as the other apostles in the faith that compelled him to act as he did. What Jude lacked was a succession of people who would spend centuries weaving tales of how important a man he was and how efficacious were prayers addressed to him.
Were Jude to have lived in the present times, social media might have made him an altogether different figure.