The Golden Legend or Lives Of The Saints
Compiled by Jacobus de Voragine, Archbishop of
Englished by William Caxton, First Edition 1483
HERE FOLLOWETH OF THE HOLY APOSTLES SIMON AND JUDE
is as much to say as obedient, or being in heaviness. And he had a double name;
he was said Simon Zelotes, and Simon Cananean of
Simon Cananean and Judas Thaddeus were brethren of James the Less and sons of Mary Cleophas, which was married to Alpheus. And Jude was sent of Thomas to the king Abgarus of Edessa after the ascension of our Lord.
King Abgarus writes to Jesus
And it is read in the History Scholastic that the said Abgarus sent an epistle [letter] unto our Lord Jesu Christ in this manner:
Abgarus the son of Euchania to Jesus, blessed Saviour,
which appeareth in the places of
Our Lord Jesus answered him by writing in these words:
Blessed art thou that hast believed in me when thou hast not seen me. It is written of me, that they that see me not shall believe in me, and they that see me shall not believe. Of that thou hast written to me that I shall come to thee, me behoveth to [i.e., I must] accomplish that which I am sent for, and after to be received of him from whom I am sent. When I am ascended, I shall send to thee one of my disciples to heal thee and quicken thee.
The Painting of Jesus’ Face
This is written in Historia Ecclesiastica. And when Abgarus saw that he might not see God presently, after that it is said in an ancient history, as John Damascene witnesseth in his fourth book, he sent a painter unto Jesu Christ for to figure the image of our Lord, to the end that at least that he might see him by his image, whom he might not see in his visage [face].
And when the painter came, because of the great splendour and light that shone in the visage of our Lord Jesu Christ, he could not behold it, ne [nor] could not counterfeit [copy] it by no figure. And when our Lord saw this thing he took from the painter a linen cloth and set it upon his visage, and emprinted the very phisiognomy of his visage therein, and sent it unto the king Abgarus which so much desired it.
And in the same history is contained how this image was figured. It was well-eyed, well-browed, a long visage or cheer [face], and inclined, which is a sign of maturity or ripe sadness.
The Power of Jesus’ Letter to Abgarus
That epistle of our Lord Jesu Christ is of such
virtue [power], that in the city of
Also it is read in the History Ecclesiastic that when our Lord was ascended into heaven, Thomas the apostle sent Thaddeus, that was Jude, unto the king Abgarus according to the promise of our Lord. And when he was come to him, and had told to him that he was messenger of our Lord Jesu Christ, which had promised to send him one, then Abgarus saw in the visage of Thaddeus a marvellous and godly brightness. And when he had seen it he was all abashed [embarrassed] and afeared, and worshipped our Lord saying: “Verily, thou art the disciple of Jesu Christ, Son of God, which sent to me word that he would send to me some one of his disciples that should heal me and give to me life.”
To whom Thaddeus said: “If thou believest in the Son of God thou shalt have all the desires of thine heart.”
And Abgarus said: “I believe on him, verily [truly], and those Jews that slew him, I would gladly slay them if it were possible to me, and had power, howbeit [except] that the authority letteth [prevents] it.”
And as it is read in some places and books, that Abgarus was leper, and Thaddeus took the epistle of our Saviour, and rubbed and frotted therewith the visage of Abgarus, and anon he received full health.
Simon and Jude Advise Duke Bardach in Mesopotamia
Judas preached first in
Which [they] answered: “If thou demand of our lineage, we be Hebrews, and if thou demand of our condition, we be servants of Jesu Christ, and if thou demand wherefore we be come, we be for your health.”
To whom the duke answered: “When I shall return joyously from the battle I shall hear you.”
To whom the apostles said: “It is more convenable to thee [in your interest] to know him now, by whom thou mayst overcome and appease [pacify] them that be rebel to thee.”
And the duke answered: “I see you more mighty than our gods; I pray you to say to us tofore the end of the battle.”
And the apostles said: “Because that thou knowest thy gods to be liars, we command them that they give answer to that [which] thou demandest, because that when they have we shall prove that they have lied.”
Then the idols said that the battle should be great, and much people should be overthrown on both sides. And then the apostles began to laugh and the duke said to them: “I am afeard and ye laugh.”
And the apostles said: “Doubt [fear] ye nothing, for peace shall be made among you, and tomorn at the hour of tierce  the messengers of the Medes shall come, and shall submit them [themselved] to thy puissance [power] with peace.”
And then the bishops of the idols made a great laughter, and said to the duke: “These men here would assure thee here, to the end that thou shouldst believe foolishly, and that thou shouldst be betaken of thine adversaries.”
And the apostles said: “We say not abide a month, but one day only, and thou shalt be vanquisher all in peace.”
Then the duke made to be kept that one and that other, that they that said the truth should be honoured, and the liars punished. Then on the morn, like as the apostles had said, it happed, and then the duke would have burnt the bishops of the idols, but the apostles letted [prevented] him that he should not slay them, for they were not come for to slay but for to quicken the dead. And then the duke much marvelled that they would not that they should be slain ne receive none of their goods, and brought them to the king and said: “These be gods hid in form of men.”
The Enchanters conspire against Saints Simon and Jude
And when he had told all to him in the presence of his enchanters, the enchanters, being moved of envy, said that they were malicious and wicked men, and purposed some malice against the realm subtly. Then the duke said to them: “Now if ye dare, assay ye [test them] and dispute with them.”
And the enchanters said: “If thou wilt, thou shalt see that they shall not now speak. We being present, make men to come hither that be eloquent and can well speak. And if they dare speak tofore us despise ye us, and say we be fools.”
And then were brought tofore them many advocates, and anon they were made dumb tofore the enchanters, so that by signs they might not show that they might not speak. Then said the enchanters to the king: “To the end that thou know that we be gods, we shall suffer them to speak, but they shall not mow go [be able to walk], and then we shall give to them their going and shall take away their sight, and yet shall their eyes be open.”
And when they had done all these things, the duke brought the advocates all confused unto the apostles, and when the advocates saw the apostles so evil clothed, they had of them great despite [disdain] in their courage [hearts]. To whom Simon said: “Ofttimes it happeth that among coffers of gold wrought with precious stones be right evil things enclosed, and within coffers of tree [wood] be laid gold rings and precious stones. Promise ye that ye will forsake the idols and will worship one only God invisible, and we shall make the sign of the cross in your foreheads, and ye shall then mow [be able to] confound these enchanters.”
And when these advocates had renounced the idols and were marked in the foreheads with the sign of the cross, they entered again to the king tofore the enchanters. Then might they not be overcome of the enchanters, but confounded them openly before the king and all the people. The enchanters were then angry, and made to come a great multitude of serpents. Then the apostles came anon by the commandment of the king, and filled their mantles with the serpents, and threw them against the enchanters, saying: “Move ye not in the name of our Lord Jesu Christ but be ye to-torn and beaten, so that ye cry and bray in showing what sorrow and pain ye suffer.”
And then when the serpents bit and eat [ate] the flesh of the enchanters, they cried and howled like wolves, and the king and the others prayed the apostles that they would suffer them to die with the serpents. And the apostles answered that they were sent for to bring men from death to life, and not from life to death. Then made they their prayers and commanded the serpents that they should take from them again the venom that they had shed, and return again to the places that they came from.
And the enchanters felt greater pain when they drew out their venom again, than they did the first time when they bit them. And the apostles said to them: “Ye shall feel this pain three days, and at the third day ye shall be whole, so that ye depart [desist] from your malice.”
And when they had been tormented three days without meat [food] and drink and without sleep, the apostles came to them and said: “God deigneth not to have service by force, and therefore arise ye all whole and go your way, ye have power to do what ye will.
abiding in their malice, arose up and fled from the apostles and moved almost
against them all
The Unwed Mother and the Holy Deacon
After, the daughter of a duke conceived a son by fornication, and at her deliverance thereof she defamed an holy deacon, and said that he had defouled her and she had conceived of him. And when the friends of her would have slain the deacon, the apostles came and demanded when the child had been born. And they said: “Yesterday, the first hour of the day.”
And the apostles said: “Bring hither the child to us, and also the deacon that ye accuse.”
And when that was done, the apostles said to the child: “Say to us in the name of our Lord if this deacon hath done this deed.”
And the child answered: “This deacon is chaste and an holy man, ne he never defouled his flesh.”
And then the parents and friends required that the apostle should demand who had done that felony. They answered: “It appertaineth to us for to excuse the innocents, and not betray ne hurt them that be culpable.”
Two Cruel Tigers
That time it happed that two cruel tigers, which were enclosed in a pit, brake out and devoured all them that they met and encountered, and then the apostles came to them and made them as meek and debonair, in the name of our Lord, as they had been sheep or lambs.
Simon and Jude Gain Converts in
And then the apostles would have departed thence, but they were holden by prayers so that they abode there a year and three months, and in that espace of time the king and more than sixty thousand men were baptized, without children.
And the foresaid enchanters went into a city called Suamar, whereas were seventy bishops of idols, whom they moved against the apostles, so that when they came thither, either they should do sacrifice to the idols or they should be slain. And when the apostles had gone round about the province, they came to said city, and anon all the bishops and the people took them and brought them to the temple of the sun. And the devils began to cry in the simulachres: What will these apostles of the living God do to us? Lo! how we be burnt by flames in their entering into this city.
And then the angel of our Lord appeared unto the apostles, and said to them: “Choose ye of two things that one, that is, either that this people be suddenly dead or slain, or that ye be martyred.”
To whom they said: “We will that thou convert them here, and lead us to the pain of martyrdom.”
And they then commanded silence, and the apostles said: “Because that ye shall know that these idols be full of devils, we comnmand them for to come out, and that each of them break and destroy his false image.” And anon two Ethiopians, black and naked, issued out of the idols, all the people seeing which were abashed, and all tobrake their idols, and went their way, crying cruelly.
And when the bishops saw this, they ran upon the apostles and hewed them to death anon. And that same hour, which was right fair weather, came so great thunder and lightning that the temple was smitten in three, and the two enchanters were turned into coals by the stroke of thunder.
And the king bare the bodies of the apostles into his city, and did do make a church of marvellous greatness in the honour of them.
Other Accounts of Simon’s Acts and Death
And it is founden in divers
places, of S. Simon, that he was nailed to the cross, which thing Isidore saith in the Book of the Death of the Apostles, and
Eusebius in the History Ecclesiastic,
and Bede upon the Acts of the Apostles, and Master
John Beleth in his Summa witnesseth
the same. And as they say, when he had preached in
Then let us devoutly pray these apostles to be our special advocates unto our blessed Lord Jesu Christ their master, to have pity and mercy on us. Amen.
The iconography of Saint Simon and Saint Jude Thadeeus is available at the Christian iconography website.
For other saints, see the index to this Golden Legend website.
Scanned by Robert Blackmon. firstname.lastname@example.org.
This text was taken from the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.
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E-text © Paul Halsall, September 2000 email@example.com
Reformatted with paragraphs, rubrics, italics, and explanatory insertions by Richard Stracke