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The First St Tidas

The First St Tida - What we know of the Name

St. Tida or Thaddeus was one of Jesus' twelve disciples and is better known also as Jude.
Jude was related to Jesus, and also to James the Less and to Simon the Zealot. Because of the similarity in name to Judas Iscariot, the traitor, Matthew and Mark called him Thaddeus. Inspired by the Holy Spirit soon after Jesus' death, he spread the good news of Jesus Christ's teaching and resurrection in Syria, Iraq and Armenia. The Armenian Church remembers St. Thaddeus in February and December.

The Russians claim that it was Jude who brought Christianity to the Slavonic races. Later, he rejoined Simon, and for thirteen years they worked together in Persia and Babylon.

In Armenia, Thaddeus met with the Armenian King Abgar, who reigned in the city of Edessa from 1 B.C. to A.D. 37. King Abgar had contracted a grave illness during his travels to the East. Hearing of the miracles of healing by Jesus of Nazareth, he wrote a letter to Jerusalem inviting Christ to Edessa. A delegation headed by the king's emissary Anan delivered the letter to Jersualem, where it was received by the Apostle Thomas. The delegation may have been among the pagans the Apostle John wrote about in his account of Christ's entry into Jerusalem: "and there were certain pagans who had come to Jerusalem to worship him (John 12:20)." King Abgar's letter received its response after the resurrection and Pentecost with the mission of Thaddeus to Armenia. The Armenian Church remembers St. Abgar in December.

According to tradition, St. Thaddeus brought to Armenia the spear (Arm. geghard) with which the Roman centurion Lucian pierced Christ's side on the cross. It was kept at Ayri Vank (Cave Monastery, present-day Geghard Monastery) in Armenia. This relic is used once every seven years in their consecration of Holy Chrism (Muron), which is used for baptismal, ordination and other rites by Armenian churches around the world. It is believed that Herr Hitler once expressed a desire to have ownership of it!

Thaddeus was a bold missionary, bringing the word into the royal palace of Armenia's King Sanatruk, baptizing the king's daughter, Sandoukht. The established government and religious leaders bitterly opposed the threatening new sect called Christianity, going so far as to imprison the king's daughter. In prison, Sandoukht refused to renounce Christianity, instead converting the other prisoners. Sandoukht became the first Armenian martyr. When her father forced her to choose between the church and the crown, Sandoukht chose the church, knowing it would mean her death. After Sandoukht was executed, Thaddeus continued preaching and around 66 A.D. was martyred. Local legend claimed that a nearby rock opened and received the body of the apostle. The tomb is near a place now called Makou in present-day Iran, where St. Thaddeus Monastery is located. The Armenian Church remembers St. Sandoukht in February.