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Why does St. Jude hold a medallion in paintings and statues?

Saint Jude Statue, expressive

Immaculate | Shutterstock

Philip Kosloski - published on 02/18/24

One of the most recognizable symbols of St. Jude is a medallion he holds, and on the medallion is the face of Jesus.

A common symbol seen in holy cards and other images of St. Jude is a medallion that he holds with one hand.

What is it?

If you look closely, you will see that the medallion has an image of Jesus’ face imprinted on it.

This medallion has nothing to do with St. Jude’s life as an apostle, but is a reference to an ancient legend that is associated with his miraculous intercession.

According to the National Shrine of St. Jude, “The medallion is an impression of Jesus, known as ‘The Image of Edessa.’ King Abgar of Edessa (now part of Turkey) was suffering from a serious illness. He had heard of Jesus healing others and called for Jesus to heal him. Jesus pressed His face onto a piece of cloth and gave it to St. Jude to present to King Abgar. Upon receiving the cloth King Abgar was healed.”

Daniel Esparza wrote an article on the Mandylion of Edessa and explains that, “Tradition claims that the Image was created when Jesus pressed a cloth to his face, leaving his features imprinted on the cloth – very much as in the legend of the veil of Veronica, the Vero Icono, the True Icon. The Image of Edessa is thus one of the most famous acheiropoieta in the Christian tradition (although known mostly in the East), and it has played an important role in the history of Christian art and devotion.”

The next time you see an image or statue of St. Jude, be on the look out for an image of Jesus’ face.

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