Feast Day of Ss Simon and Jude – 28th October

Saints Simon and Jude are listed in the twelve disciples of Our Lord.  They heard the teaching, witnessed the miracles and sat at table at the Last Supper.  They were among those who deserted and fled in the Garden of Gethsemane, witnessed the Risen Christ after the Resurrection and received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

The Gospels name Saint Simon as the tenth apostle and traditionally he has been identified as the cousin of Christ, brother of James the Younger. In the East he is identified as Nathanael of Cana the host at the wedding of Cana because he is named Simon the Canaanite in both Matt.x.4 & Mk 3.18. St Luke names him as Simon Zelotes Lk vi.15 & Acts i.13 which might indicate that he was one of the Jewish sect of “the Zealots” who were conspicuous for their fierce advocacy of the Mosaic Law. The truth however is probably in a problem of translation because both words derive from the Hebrew word qunai meaning ‘zealous’ and most scholars today generally translate the two words to mean “Zealot”.  A later source says, “Simon the Canaanite, the son of Cleophas, also called Jude, was created bishop of Jerusalem after James the Just fell asleep and was buried there at the age of 120.”  This source is now generally disregarded by scholars because of the confusion with Jude.  By the fifth century an Armenian writer says that he preached in Persia but the truth is that all we know for certain are the mentions in the Gospels and Acts.

The New Testament gives more information about Saint Jude.  Saint Matthew (x.3) calls him Lebbaeus whose surname was Thaddaeus and places him in the tenth place among the Twelve Apostles.  In Saint Luke (.vi.16) and Acts (i.13) the eleventh place is given to “Judas of James” and Saint John (xiv.22) speaks of “Judas, not Iscariot.”  The canonical Epistle is headed.  “Jude the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James” and Saint Jerome confirmed this.  Saint James is called by Saint Paul in his Epistle to the Galatians, “the brother of the Lord” and in 1Cor.15.3-8 an appearance of the Risen Christ to him is specifically mentioned. In Saint Matthew (xiii.55) we read “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And his brethren, James and Joses, and Simon and Judas?”  It was thought that these ‘brethren’ were the sons of Joseph by a former wife but more recent scholars think they were sons of a sister of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The early Christians soon found it necessary to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot who betrayed Our Lord by shortening ‘Judas’ to ‘Jude’ to avoid confusion.

Ss Simon and Jude looking on – Cockshutt Church

In recent times fragments of an ancient manuscript called the Sayings of the Lord by Papias (c.70-163) have come to light giving fascinating details: “Mary the wife of Cleophas or Alphaeus, who was the mother of James the bishop and apostle, and of Simon and Thaddeus.”(Fragment X)

The general conclusion seems to be that Saint Simon, Saint Jude and Saint James were the sons of Cleopas and Mary.  They are called our Lord’s brethren, that is, they were cousins of our Lord.  By comparing Matt.xxvii.56 and Mark xv.20 with John xix.25 we find that the Virgin Mary had a sister named, like herself, Mary, who was the wife of Cleopas and who had two sons, James (the Less) and Joses. Matt xiii.55 and Mk vi.3 state that James and Joses, with two other brethren, Jude and Simon, and at least three sisters were living with the Virgin Mary at Nazareth. The reason for this would have been that Cleopas was dead, and Mary was a widow.

Many legendary accounts of the extensive missionary activities of these saints exist. According to the thirteenth century Golden Legend  Jude suffered martyrdom about 65 AD in a Roman province of Syria in Lebanon together with the apostle Simon the Zealot, with whom he is usually venerated in the West.  Their relics are said to be in the Vatican in Rome although others claim to have them.  Saint Jude is said to have been the founder of the Armenian Orthodox Church and along with Saint Bartholomew is venerated as the patron saint.

The original dedication of the medieval chapel at Cockshutt to Saint Helena was changed at some stage after the Reformation.  This was almost certainly because Saints Simon and Jude are to be found in the New Testament. The Patronal Festival is October 28 but in the East the Apostle Jude son of James (Lebbaeus, Thaddaeus) the Brother of the Lord is commemorated on 19 June and 30 June.

Another connection with our benefice is The Golden Legend which was set to music by the Rev. H.E.Hodson, the third Vicar of Lyneal cum Colemere and performed by the Birmingham Choral Society in the 1880’s.

The Divine Liturgy of Saint James, the oldest living liturgy, is still in regular use in the East. The Angelic Hymn from this ancient liturgy is found in most western hymnals translated as “Let all mortal flesh keep silent”. (Disclaimer: YouTube may carry adverts over which we have no control).

Christopher Jobson

Feature Image: Ugolino di Nerio. St. Simon and St. Thaddeus (Jude) 1324-25 London NG (WikiCommons, P.D)

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