Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Saint Simon and Saint Jude

October 28 is marked in some traditions as the Feast of Saints Simon and Jude. These two apostles were tenth and eleventh in lists of the Twelve, but not much more is known about them than about St. Bartholomew. Some authorities believe that Jude was related to Jesus, but though there was another brother in the family named Simon, he was never identified as today's St. Simon. These two may have traveled togather to Mesopotamia and Persia, where they were martyred, which is why they are celebrated together.

Simon is also known as the Zealot, perhaps to differentiate him from Simon Peter. Jude (also called Thaddeus) has also been confused with Judas Iscariot, and apparently for some years in earlier times prayer to him was discouraged for that reason.

The Epistle of Jude (shortest book in the New Testament) talks about perseverence in the face of opposition, which may be why Jude is also considered the patron of lost causes.

Today's hymn is once again by John Ellerton, author of several other saint's day hymns.

Thou who sentest thine apostles
Two and two before thy face,
Partners in the night of toiling,
Heirs together of thy grace,
Throned at length, their labors ended,
Now in heaven's exalted place.

Praise to thee for those thy champions
Whom our hymns today proclaim;
One, whose zeal by thee enlightened
Burned anew with nobler flame;
One, the brother of thy childhood,
Brought at last to know thy Name.

Praise to thee! Thy fire within them
Spake in love, and wrought in power;
Seen in mighty signs and wonders
In thy church’s morning hour;
Heard in tones of sternest warning
When the storms began to lower.

Thus with holy Jude and Simon
And the thousand faithful more,
We, the good confession witnessed,
And our lifelong conflict o’er,
On the sea of fire and crystal
Stand, and wonder, and adore.

God our Maker, great and wondrous
In thy works, to thee be praise;
Jesus Christ, to thee be glory,
Just and true in all thy ways;
Praise to thee, from both proceeding,
Spirit blest, through endless days.

John Ellerton, 1874; alt.
Tune: NUKAPU (
Edward J. Hopkins, 1875

The unusual name of Edward Hopkins's tune probably refers to the Nukapu which is one of the Solomon Islands. While I haven't found a direct link, Nukapu might have been considered a place of martyrdom, thus linked to the death of saints. The island was in the news in England in the early 1870s because a bishop of the Church of England, John Coleridge Patteson, was killed there.


Dorothy said...

I had never thought of the subject matter of the Epistle of Jude as a reason for considering him the patron saint of lost causes. But it makes good sense and I do believe you very well may be right, C.W.S.!

C.W.S. said...

Thanks, Dorothy, but I'm not that clever -- I read that somewhere in the last week or so when researching this entry. I also vaguely remember that there was some other completely different explanation somewhere else -- like so much of the information out there about these saints!