Apart from their inclusion in the apostolic lists of the Twelve in the Synoptic Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, nothing more is known from the Scriptures about the apostles Simon and Jude. As with many of the Twelve, their names are recorded, but the details of their work after Pentecost is not given. We are simply given to know that they, along with the rest of the apostolic band, are the foundation on which the Church is built, Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone.
Simon, sometimes given the epithet “the Less” to distinguish him from Simon Peter, is known in the Gospels either as Simon the Canaanite or Simon the Zealot. The latter may mean simply that he was zealous in keeping the Law, or that he was a member of the Zealot party, fanatical opponents of Roman rule in Judaea and Galilee. The Monology of Basil the Great tells us that Simon died a peaceful death at Edessa, but Western tradition, as represented by the Roman Martyrology and dating back to the sixth century, holds that he first preached in Egypt and then joined Jude (who had been in Mesopotamia), and that together they went to preach the Gospel in Persia, where they suffered martyrdom at Sufian (or at Siani).
Jude, called “Judas not Iscariot” in John’s Gospel, is referred to in Luke as “Judas of James”. In more modern translations, this is taken to mean “son of James”, but older translations (such as the Authorized Version) render it “brother of James”, so that in the West at least, Jude has tradtionally been understood to have been the brother of James, the brother of the Lord (and thus the brother, step-brother, or cousin of Jesus – see Matthew 13 and Mark 6). (If so, this would make Jude the first of Jesus’ brothers known to have become one of his followers.) He is also traditionally held to be the author of the Epistle of Jude. Jude is also generally understood to be the same person as Thaddaeus (or Lebbaeus) in the Gospels according to Matthew and Mark, names perhaps given to him to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot.
In the West, following the tradition of the apocryphal Passion of Simon and Jude, the two have been commemorated together in the calendar, on the twenty-eighth of October. The Armenian Church regards Saint Thaddaeus and Saint Bartholomew as the first to preach the Gospel among the Armenians and so commemorate those two apostles together. In the Orthodox Churches, Saint Simon and Saint Jude (“the brother of the Lord”) are commemorated separately. The relics of Saint Simon and Saint Jude are held to have been translated to Saint Peter’s in Rome in the seventh or eighth century. There are at least three ancient dedications of English churches to Saint Simon and Saint Jude together, but none to either of them alone.
O God, we thank you for the glorious company of the apostles, and especially on this day for Simon and Jude; and we pray that, as they were faithful and zealous in their mission, so we may with ardent devotion make known the love and mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
“Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak,
and let the earth hear the words of my mouth.
May my teaching drop as the rain,
my speech distill as the dew,
like gentle rain upon the tender grass,
and like showers upon the herb.
For I will proclaim the name of the Lord;
ascribe greatness to our God!
“The Rock, his work is perfect,
for all his ways are justice.
A God of faithfulness and without iniquity,
just and upright is he.
In aeternum, Domine
O LORD, your word is everlasting; *
it stands firm in the heavens.
Your faithfulness remains from one generation to another; *
you established the earth, and it abides.
By your decree these continue to this day, *
for all things are your servants.
If my delight had not been in your law, *
I should have perished in my affliction.
I will never forget your commandments, *
because by them you give me life.
I am yours; oh, that you would save me! *
for I study your commandments.
Though the wicked lie in wait for me to destroy me, *
I will apply my mind to your decrees.
I see that all things come to an end, *
but your commandment has no bounds.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
[Jesus said to his disciples] “These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’
“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
The icons of Saint Simon and Saint Jude are from the workshop of Simone Martini, c. 1320. My thanks to the website of Christ Church (Anglican), Windsor, Nova Scotia, for the image.
The Collect and Psalm are taken from the Book of Common Prayer (1979). The Lesson, Epistle, and Gospel are taken from the English Standard Version Bible.
Because October 28 falls on a Sunday this year, the Lord’s Day taking precedence of any of the holy days that are “other major feasts”, the commemoration of Saint Simon and Saint Jude is transferred to the first open day following, October 29.