Practically nothing about St. Jude the Apostle's life is known for certain. It's not clear when he was called to discipleship or exactly how he spent the years after Jesus' death and ascension. Scholars believe that he is the same as Thaddeus, the brother of St. James the Lesser, and one of the canonical epistles is attributed to him.
And yet, probably no saint has a greater following and devotion, particularly in times of trouble when people face seemingly impossible odds. Jude has become the Saint of the Impossible. People continue to pray to him for hopeless and difficult favors. It is not uncommon to find entries in the personal ads in local newspapers that say, "Thank you, St. Jude, for favors received." It is a long-standing tradition that if Jude answers your prayers, you should thank him formally.
How did Jude acquire this reputation? Legends suggest that Jude preached the Gospel in Mesopotamia where he frequently ran afoul of local sorcerers and magicians and performed impressive miracles to establish his own power and authority, often against great odds. For example, he cured a local king of leprosy, tamed two wild tigers that had escaped, and influenced warring armies to make peace. On one occasion, sorcerers struck all the city's lawyers dumb so they could not speak, but Jude restored their speech by holding up a crucifix before them.
In spite of his successes, Jude, like many first-century Christians, was martyred with stones and clubs.