Who is St. Jude, who is always being thanked in classified ads?

Dear Cecil:

Who is this St. Jude dude? Why are people always thanking him in the classified section of the newspaper?

Cecil replies:

I am continually shocked at how little the coming generation knows about the realm of the spirit. Saint Jude is the patron saint of hopeless causes. Also known as Jude Thaddeus, he was one of the 12 apostles, but other than that virtually nothing is known about him. According to the Oxford Dictionary of Saints, his job as lost-cause czar “is said to have originated because nobody invoked him for anything since his name so closely resembled that of Judas, who betrayed the Lord.” In other words, he was so hard up for work he’d jump at the chance to intercede on your behalf.

Devotion to Jude first began in the late 1700s in France and Germany.  If he comes through for you today, one gathers you’re supposed to manifest your gratitude publicly.   Who originated this practice?  I dunno.  But I’ll bet he moonlighted selling classified ads.

Send questions to Cecil via cecil@straightdope.com.

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