Laura recently asked for a spotlight on the name Jude, one of my favorites and I know a lot of you love it, too.
I had a sense that Jude is one of those “new” Catholicky Catholic names, in that it wasn’t used too much until recently, and I looked it up on the SSA site and lo, I was right:
Pretty crazy popularity chart, right? Like, what’s the spike between 1955 (#954) and 1957 (#799), especially since it didn’t even make the top 1000 in 1956? Why did it decrease so much from 1977 to 1978? Why the huge jump from 1999 to 2000? I’m not going to research all that — I might be at the computer all day! — but I suspect the 1999-2000 jump is likely due to actor Jude Law, and the Beatles’ Hey Jude was released in 1968, which corresponds to a jump up. Thomas Hardy also wrote the novel Jude the Obscure in 1895, and a movie of it was released in 1996. (Did anyone see it? It’s completely unfamiliar to me.)
But for us, as I wrote here, Jude is the apostle Jude Thaddeus, the saint of desperate situations and impossible causes, hospitals, and hospital workers (all of which fits right in with the related but also separate association of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which was a direct result of a prayer to St. Jude by Danny Thomas). CatholicSaints.info gives this snippet about St. Jude:
“Son of Cleophas, who died a martyr, and Mary who stood at the foot of the Cross, and who annointed Christ’s body after death. Brother of Saint James the Lesser. Nephew of Mary and Joseph; blood relative of Jesus Christ, and reported to look a lot like him. May have been a fisherman. Apostle.
Wrote the canonical Epistle named for him. Preached in Syria, Mesopotamia, and Persia with Saint Simon. Healer. Exorcist. Could exorcise pagan idols, which caused the demons to flee and the statues to crumble.”
(Kind of sounds like he’s the perfect guy to turn to right now, no? Impossible causes and desperate situations … preached in Syria … exorcist …)
I hadn’t remembered that he was the brother of James — kind of cool for a family with a James to consider using Jude for another boy. I kind of love that it’s at a real peak of popularity right now too, because I feel like it’s one of those names that might have been considered … soft … for a boy not too long ago, but there are a decent amount of little boy Judes right now, so I think it’s a good time for Jude.
I really like the Baby Name Wizard entry for it too, saying it has “a pioneer style and a strong religious heritage that gives it impressive gravity. It also has a simple sound that keeps it unpretentious. The one other choice with that that same style combo is Luke, which has been a steady hit for decades. Jude is a less common alternative that is finally realizing its breakout potential.” I like that: Jude is the Luke less traveled.
A small mention should be given to the fact that Jude has some usage among girls. Martha Stewart’s granddaughter is Jude, one of Bridget Jones’ inner circle (female) is Jude, and it’s not uncommon as a nickname for Judith, though Judith is at an all time low, hovering right near the 1000 mark. Jude as a given name for girls isn’t even on the charts, so it’s a very small consideration. I would imagine that parents of boy Judes would want to avoid the possibility of it turning into Judy, but I don’t think Judy would be a huge deal, since itself is not common for girls these days anyway.
Jude can also be used as a nickname for Julian — I’ve seen it done so, and I suspect it’s because the Hey Jude song was originally Hey Jules, written for Julian Lennon when his parents split up.
What do you all think of Jude? Would you name your son Jude, or have you? Do the little Judes you know like their name? If you love the saint and would love to name a boy after him, do you prefer Jude or Thaddeus?