Saint Thaddeus is mentioned in Matthew 10:3 and Mark 3:18 as one of the twelve apostles. The name used in the New Testament seems to refer also to Lebbaeus and Jude. They apparently are synonymous.
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As Lebbaeus, he is associated with the legend of King Abgar of Edessa. The King was ill and wrote to Jesus and asked him to come and heal him. Jesus replied that he could not come, but when he had ascended he would send a disciple to heal him and preach the gospel. Lebbaeus, (Thaddeus) is thought to be the agent St. Thomas sent. He is also thought to be the founder of the church at Edessa, which had the oldest known church edifice (destroyed by flood in 201). This legend was widely accepted in the East but rejected in the West (Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, p.5).
Thaddeus generally is accepted to be St. Jude, apostle and author of the book in the New Testament. He is thought to be the brother of James, therefore one of the “Brothers of the Lord.” In the apocryphal “Passion of Simon and Jude” we are told the two apostles went to Persia to preach and were martyred there.
In modern times the early Abgar legend has received support by both Roman Catholic and Protestant theologians. He (Thaddeus) has become the patron saint for those suffering with special difficulties. The feast day is observed with St. Simon on October 28th.
The Rev. Mellie Hussey Hickey +
For additional reading, see the book by H. Addison McClearen and S. Owen Sheetz. St. Thaddeus of Aiken: A Church and Its City. It is available for purchase from our bookstore.