Feast of St. Jude

jude

Prayer to St. Jude

St. Jude, apostle and epistler
Blood of the line of David,
Of the nuptial wine Christ created,
Of the claret of that paschal vintner
That washed the Shroud thou didst deliver

Martyr of that very vintage,
If I drink of Christ’s same chalice
Tinctured by His merry Image
Pray mercy let me envisage
Feasts eternal in heaven’s palace.

Commentary

St. Jude, apostle and epistler

St. Jude, or St. Judas Thaddaeus, is one of the twelve apostles of our Lord, and his Epistle is part of the canon of Scripture. Judas, from Judah, in Hebrew means “praised.” Etymologically, “apostle” is derived from the Greek apostolos meaning “messenger, envoy,” literally “person sent forth,” whereas “epistle” from the Greek epistole means “message, letter, command, commission.” St. Jude is indeed a messenger worthy of praise whose commission it is to preach the Gospel.

Blood of the line of David

St. Jude, as the son of Mary of Cleophas (the sister-in-law of St. Joseph), is a cousin of Jesus, and like Jesus is a descendant of King David.

Of the nuptial wine Christ created

This verse, along with the two subsequent verses, is read in continuity with the immediately preceding verse. Thus, this verse is read: “Blood…of the nuptial wine Christ created.” The blood of man is identified with the blood of the grape in biblical simile, and here St. Jude is associated with the wine Christ miraculously created at the wedding of Cana, a wedding for which St. Jude was in attendance, some even identifying him as the bridegroom. As the wine at this wedding feast is a type of the Eucharist, i.e., the blood of Christ, St. Jude partaking of this wine at the wedding feast can be seen as a precursor to St. Jude’s participation in the passion of Christ through St. Jude’s martyrdom. A participation also contemplated by the petitioner in the below verse: “If I drink of Christ’s same chalice.”

Of the claret of that paschal vintner

Again, this verse should be read, “Blood…of the claret of that paschal vintner.” Of all types of wine, claret is that most identified with blood. While the previous verse associates St. Jude with the wedding of Cana, this verse more deeply links him, again by virtue of St. Jude’s martyrdom, with Christ’s passion, which itself is being described metaphorically as claret. This verse is also consonant with the scriptural and traditional representation of Christ as both wine and wine-press.

That washed the Shroud thou didst deliver

This verse is read in continuity with the immediately preceding verse, as “Blood…of the claret of that paschal vintner that washed the Shroud thou didst deliver.” The focus of the previous verse on Christ as the vintner is important, as the imagery in the present verse is of the blood-stained cloth. Taken together, these verses recall the fulfillment of the prophecy, “He shall wash his robe in wine, and his garment in the blood of the grape.” Genesis 49:11. They also recall the reply to the question, “why then is thy apparel red, and thy garments like theirs that tread in the wine-press?” Isaiah 63:2.

The garments that are washed or stained are the burial garments in which Christ was buried, i.e., the Shroud of Turin. St. Jude’s connection with the Shroud is through what is known as the “Image of Edessa,” which is likely the same item as the Shroud. A tradition holds that St. Jude delivered this image of Jesus to the ailing king of Edessa, who was healed of his illness and converted.

Martyr of that very vintage

St. Jude was martyred in Syria, being killed by either a club or an ax. While all Christians partake in the passion of Christ by virtue of their own sufferings, martyrs certainly to the fullest extent are pressed in the same vintage as Christ’s own passion by virtue of their martyrdom.

If I drink of Christ’s same chalice

The mother of the Sons of Zebedee’s inquired of Christ whether her sons could sit on his right and on his left in heaven. After Jesus responded, he asked whether the sons “could drink the cup that [he] would drink,” in reference to his passion. Then he said that they may have to do so. Here, the petitioner begins an inquiry of St. Jude with a hypothetical, namely, “if the petitioner should indeed have to drink of the chalice from which Christ drank, i.e., martyrdom or a spiritual martyrdom.”

Tinctured by His merry Image

In this verse, the petitioner reemphasizes the specific type of death to which he refers, namely, martyrdom, by adding onto “Christ’s same chalice” the description “tincture by His merry Image.” The Eucharistic imagery is resonant. Intinction is the dipping of the consecrated bread in the Precious Blood. “His merry image” recalls the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The use of “merry” adds one more element to the mix, the paradox of joy amidst suffering.

Pray mercy let me envisage

The petitioner prays to St. Jude for that which is not yet seen by him. As the saint for the hopeless and despaired, the plea for a vision or a reason for hope is particularly appropriate.

Feasts eternal in heaven’s palace

The vision for which the petitioner asks is the heavenly banquet. Such a feast couples well with the wine of martyrdom, by which the petitioner’s palate is whet. The petitioner asks for hope that his suffering will be rewarded in heaven.

 

 

*A note on the rhyme scheme: The prayer’s rhyme scheme changes from ABBAA in the first stanza to ABAAB in the second stanza to reflect the shift from praise of the saint to the petition proper.

St. Jude’s Day Blessing

judeoil

St. Jude Oil is a sacramental. We received this oil from a friend, Fr. James Moore, from the Dominican Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus in San Francisco. The oil is blessed with a relic of St. Jude by a priest using the following formula according to the Church’s Book of Blessings:

God of compassion, mercy, and love, in the midst of the pain and suffering of the world, your Son came among us to heal our infirmites and soothe our wounds. Bless this oil in honor of St. Jude, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and may all who use it be blessed with health of mind and body.

On St. Jude’s Day, we of course give Jude a blessing with this holy oil.  Drawing on the tradition of St. Jude delivering a cloth with the image of Christ on it, we also bless a cloth with this oil and have Jude choose a lucky recipient.

St. Jude, pray for us.

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