Simon, surnamed the Zealot, may have been part of the group of that name, which repudiated foreign domination of Israel. Beyond the fact that he was chosen by Our Lord as one of the twelve Apostles, there is no mention of him in the Gospels. According to Western tradition, after preaching in Egypt, he joined St. Jude in Syria and suffered martyrdom there.
Jude, also known as Thaddeus, is clearly distinguished from Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus. Mentioned twice in the Gospels (John 6:16 and Acts 1:13), he is thought to have been a cousin of Our Lord on St. Joseph’s side.
His attribute is the club or ax, by means of which he is thought to have suffered martyrdom. The most generally recognized depiction of St. Jude, the apostle holds a medallion with the face of the Lord, possibly linked to the image of Edessa.
The legend of the image of Edessa is recorded in the Historia Ecclesiastica written by Eusebius. According to the account, King Abgar, being ill, sent a letter to Jesus through a messenger by the name of Hannan. In this letter Abgar asked Jesus for a cure. Hannan either painted an image of the face of Jesus, or received it miraculously, by Jesus lifting a cloth to His face and imprinting His image upon it. The royal messenger brought the image back to Edessa. After the death of our Holy Savior, the apostle Thomas sent Jude to Abgar, and Jude cured the king miraculously. Astonished, the king accepted Christianity and many of his subjects were baptized.
St. Jude is also depicted with a flame above his forehead indicating that he received the Holy Ghost with the other apostles at Pentecost.
According to tradition, after Jude’s martyrdom, pilgrims visited his grave and many experienced his powerful intercession. St. Bridget of Sweden and St. Bernard had visions from God in which they were shown St. Jude as “The Patron Saint of the Impossible.”
His relics were brought from Beirut to Rome and today rest alongside those of St. Simon in St. Peter’s Basilica.