Usually at the end of the list of apostles, Sts. Simon and Jude are two of the apostles about whom the least is known with certainty.
Simon the Zealot
Simon is often identified by his surname Kananaios, which means the “Canaanite” or “of Cana.” This identification has led some to surmise that he was the groom in the wedding attended by Jesus and his relatives at which He performed His first miracle. He is also known as “the Zealot,” leading some to conclude that he was a member of the freedom fighting party that eventually fought the Romans during the First Jewish in A.D. 66. However, it is not until that time that the Zealots are mentioned as an organization in any historical source. It is of course possible that Simon was part of some kind of proto-nationalist movement that eventually became the Zealots. The criminals with whom Christ was crucified are referred to as “insurrectionists” in the Gospel according to Mark and Bar Abbas was condemned to death for committing murder in an insurrection. Simon is sometimes identified with Simon, the “brother” of Our Lord, but it is generally agreed that was another Simon, (or Simeon) who succeeded his brother James as bishop of Jerusalem.
Like Simon, Jude is often identified as a “brother” of the Lord. This identification is more commonly accepted, especially because in some lists of the Apostles, he is called “Jude, of James.” While it is possible that could make him the son of James, it could also mean that he is the brother of James, in this case, “James, the brother of the Lord.” (Who is usually identified with St. James the Less.) If he is the same person, then he authored the Epistle of Jude, one of the shortest in the New Testament.
Jude is an Anglicized form of the Hebrew Judah, and St. Jude was one of three apostles who had this name. (The others being the infamous Judas Iscariot and St. Thomas. Since Thomas is a surname meaning twin, there is some tradition that the Apostle’s first name was Judah) He is alternately known as Thaddeus and (less frequently) Lebbaeus. He is sometimes identified with “Jude (brother) of James” and Jude, the “brother” of Jesus.
Jude is often pictured carrying an image of Christ. This comes from a legend that shortly before Christ’s Crucifixion, He received a letter from King Abgar of Edessa, asking for Jesus to come to Edessa and heal him of a serious illness (usually leprosy). Knowing that His Passion was at hand, Jesus imprinted an image of His face on a cloth or medallion for one of His Apostles to take to Agbar after the Resurrection. This task feel to St. Jude, who traveled to Edessa, healed Abgar and established the first churches there. St. Jude is often venerated as the patron of hopeless cases, perhaps because his position at the bottom of the apostolic register, as well as the similarity of his name to that of Christ’s betrayer (his name is actually the same in Hebrew, and the Evangelists sometimes refer to Jude as “NOT Iscariot”).
Sts. Simon and Jude share a feast because according to tradition, they preached and suffered martyrdom together in what is now Lebanon. Simon is pictured with a saw because tradition states he was martyred by being sawed in half while alive. More mercifully, Jude Thaddeus was killed with a halberd or ax. An alternate and more unlikely tradition places Simon in Roman Britain and has him crucified there.
Te gloriósus Apostolórum chorus laudat!
Sts. Simon and Jude, ora pro nobis!