top of page


just a little extra...

Saint Simon by Rubens


Simon and Jude are among the minor disciples, but Jude at least had a significant moment in the Gospels. Saint Simon, also known as Simon the Zealot, is scarcely mentioned in the Bible, except in the list of names of Jesus’ disciples. He is usually called Simon the Zealot to distinguish him from Simon Peter. He, however, did achieve fame in the history of the church. He is thought to have traveled to Egypt to preach the Gospel.

10th century portrait of Abgar with the image of Jesus

Jude, named in John as Judas not Iscariot, had his name slightly changed so as not to be confused with Judas Iscariot. There are some who believe he was Jesus’ brother, other argue that he was the son of Mary of Clopas, thought to be a sister of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. He is known for his question in John 14:22 after the Lord’s Supper, when he asks why the Lord will reveal himself to them, but not the world. Some believe he is also Thaddeus of Edessa. The story goes that Thaddeus/Jude was sent by Jesus, who had been asked by King Abgar of Edessa, to heal him. Abgar had sent a painter to paint an image of Jesus, but he could not because the light from Jesus' face made it impossible. So then, in a later version of the story, Jesus asked for a bowl of water to wash his face, After he dried his face with a towel, he had it sent to King Abgar. When the king unfolded the towel, an image of Jesus appeared and Abgar was healed. (I am indebted to the hymn writer, art historian Pastor Lisbeth Smedegaard Andersen for this information from her book Der Åbenbarede Ansigt: Kristus billedets historie, Gylling, Thanning and Appel, 2006) After that the story wanders through accounts of the early church in the East, through Eusebius and Syrian sources. The picture reappears in the city of Edessa/Urfa and said to have led to a victory over the Persians. The Mandylion of Edessa, as it is also known, is thought to be the first icon of the Orthodox tradition. Painters usually portray Jude with an image of Christ hidden in his hand near his heart. Van Dyke's portrait shows Jude carrying something, maybe a carpenter's tool. You can follow the fascinating story at this site.

Saint Jude by Anthonis Van Dyke

In the tradition Jude came to be known as the saint of hopeless causes, maybe because pious people found it very difficult to say Jude’s name for fear of confusing it with the great betrayer Judas Iscariot, so his name and work were hidden. Thus the name of the St. Jude hospitals and societies that have to do with healing and hopeless causes. His name is also well known through the St. Jude’s Children’s hospital in Memphis, handsomely supported by DannyThomas during his lifetime. St. Jude is also the patron saint of the Chicago Police.

Since these days are not noted much among Lutherans, or other Protestants, I thought it would be fun to share these hymns and this lovely account of the Image of Edessa for your meditation today.

HYMN INFO It is highly unlikely the first hymn will be widely used so I thought it would be of some interest to offer up a few of the texts I wrote in my series of lectionary hymns on the texts appointed for this day. Jame E. Clemens is an accomplished writer of musicals, operas, choral anthems, and hymn tunes. Enjoy! The last two are not confined to this day, but take the message of these saints into our lives.


150 views0 comments


bottom of page