St. Jude was one of the Twelve Apostles and the brother of St. James, who was also one of the twelve. Jude was described by St. Mathew (13:55) as being one of the "brethren" of Jesus, probably meaning a cousin since the Hebrew word for "brethren" indicates a blood relationship. Elsewhere, Jude's mother, Mary, was referred to as a cousin of Jesus' mother. St Luke's Gospel includes Jude in the list of the 12 Apostles (6:16) and St. John mentions him (14:22). St. Mathew (10:3) and St. Mark (3:18) use the name Thaddeus without Jude. Catholic scripture scholars have long held that Jude and Thaddeus are the same person, and that is why the Church speaks of St. Jude Thaddeus. It is uncertain how the devotion to St. Jude as the patron of difficult or hopeless cases began.Confusion between St. Jude and the apostle who betrayed Jesus, Judas Iscariot, may have discouraged devotion to the former for many centuries. Although there seems to have been devotion to him in the Middle Ages, it was not until more recent times that the devotion became widely popular. St. Jude is traditionally depicted carrying the image of Jesus in his hand. This idea comes from a popular story in which king bagar of Edessa asked Jesus to cure him of leprosy and sent an artist to bring him a drawing of Jesus. Impressed with Abagar's great faith, Jesus pressed his face into a cloth and gave it to St. Jude to take to Abagar. Upon seeing Jesus' image, The King was cured and he converted to Christianity along with most of the people under his rule. St. Jude is shown very often with a flame around his head. This represents his presence at Pentecost, when he received the Holy Spirit with the other Apostles. After the death of Jesus, St. Jude traveled throughout Mesopotamia, Libya, and Persia with St. Simon preaching and converting many people to Christianity. He is believed to have been martyred in Persia or Syria. The axe that he is often shown holding in pictures symbolizes the way in which he was killed -- truly, he paid the ultimate price for his faith.After his death his body was brought back to Rome and was placed in a crypt beneath St. Peter's Basilica. In the Middle Ages, St. Bernard of Clairvaux (France) was a renowned devotee of St. Jude, as was St. Bridget of Sweden who, in a vision, was encouraged by Jesus to turn to St. Jude with faith and confidence. He told her that, in accordance with Jude's surname, Thaddeus (which means generous, courageous, and kind), "he will show himself to be the most willing to give you help." In spite of (or possibly because of) all the advances human society has made, human beings find themselves under incredible stress and have difficulty coping at one time or another. All our wonderful technology and other man-made innovations are unable to provide comfort and hope when it is truly needed, so millions of people around the world turn to St. Jude when they feel the most helpless and alone. St. Jude has proven to be a true friend and a beacon of hope to those who call on him - always willing to help and seek help no matter how desperate the need. And in today's tumultuous times, we need him more than ever. The Catholic Church believes that the Church on earth lives in union with the Church in heaven. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ. As we pray to God for one another, we often ask the saints to intercede for us. The Church teaches that "true devotion to the saints does not consists so much in the multiplication of exterior acts as in the intensity of an active love, through which, for our greater good and that of the Church, we look to the saints for the example of their lives, a share in their fellowship and the help of their intercession. (II Vatican Council, Constitution Lumen Gentium #51) The Church also teaches that the Triune God is the source of all life and grace. We pray to St. Jude as a brother, pleading with him to join in our prayer before the Most High. Many people believe, primarily through experience and the testimony of others, that St. Jude is a powerful intercessor with God. It is God, however, who answers our prayers and grants us all good gifts. St. Jude will usher those who call on him, to a safe path from sufferings like ailments beyond human limits, incurable diseases which exceed the reach of medical sciences, poverty, depression, incredible stress, distress in family and devilry. St. Jude has proven to be a friend and a beacon of hope to those who seek the Saint's intercession.