Friday, August 5, 2011
August 5 -- Feast of Saint Thaddeus
The name Thaddeus is a Hellenized version of Addai, one of the seventy-two apostles dispatched following the Pentecost. He is listed as one of the great apostles to Syria and Persia, which suggested to me that he might also be one of the first martyrs. No so, however.
Thomas Judas Didymus, one of the Twelve Apostles, sent Addai to Edessa in response to some correspondence between Jesus and King Abgar Ukomo. Word of Jesus' miracle healings spread to Abgar, whose name may mean "lame" in Arabic, but is more likely to have derived from the Syriac for "Great Father" or "Mighty Archer." Since he was neither the first nor the last Abgar in his family, it is unlikely that the name signified the ailment.
Anyway, Abgar wrote to solicit Jesus' help with an unspecified ailment and to invite Jesus to set up shop in Edessa. He noted that rumors of trouble with the leadership in Jerusalem had reached him, but that there was plenty of room in Edessa for both of them (the King and the Lord). The text of the letter and Jesus' reply is posted on a secret sayings website; caveat: I have no idea how credible the text is. Jesus of course can't take Abgar up on the offer since he has a prior engagement on Golgotha, but he promises to send a representative.
Addai gets to posting and manages to heal the King. He also converts Saint Aggai, the royal jeweler of Edessa, and Saint Mari, the great evangelist of Mesopotamia. They share August 5 as a feast with him.
The picture, by the way, is of King Abgar Ukomo, not any of the saints.
Posted by Tom Major at 4:00 AM