Feast of Sts. Simon and Jude

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Jesus and the disciples after the resurrection

Most people find it hard to name all the apostles. Part of it has to do with some confusion of names. In Matthew and Mark, Jude is called Thaddeus. We think his name was Thaddeus, but he was probably also known as Judas son of James. But no one cared to bear that name, even with the dilution of James, after the betrayal and death of Judas Iscariot. (Imagine naming a child Adolf James Hitler.) So, the tradition has shortened his name to Jude. Sometimes you will see his name written as “St. Jude Thaddeus.”

There are only four mentions of Jude/Judas/Thaddeus in the scriptures. In Matthew 10:3 and Mark 3:18, he’s on a list of the twelve disciples by the name, Thaddeus. In Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13, he’s listed among the disciples as Judas son of James.

Simon the Zealot (zealot simply meaning he was an ardent believer) is often confused with Simon Peter. If you look at the mentions of Simon the Zealot in scripture, you’ll see that he is on the lists with St. Jude Thaddeus: Matthew 10:4; Mark 3:18; Luke 6: 15 and Acts 1:13.

The tradition holds that the two of them went to Persia (the country we now know as Iran) and were martyred there. Their bodies were brought to Rome and they are buried in St. Peter’s.

Their shared feast day (after a history of shared scripture verses, shared missionary journeys, shared places of death and shared burial sites) is October 28. It comes just before the All Saints’ Day. Once, people went door to door just before All Saints begging the ingredients for “soul cakes,” an early November dish meant to signal our communion with the dead. One of the songs these beggars would sing has this line:

“For the love of Simon and Jude, give us fixings for our food.”

If you can remember that line, you can remember their (shared) place among the apostles. Listen to Peter, Paul and Mary sing “A Soalin'” and Sting sing “Soul Cakes” here: