Saint Lazarus of Bethany, Martyr

This week’s Saint of the Week is Saint Lazarus of Bethany, the brother of Saint’s Martha and Mary of Bethany. All three were disciples of Jesus and the Bible tells us Jesus loved Lazarus and wept for him in the tomb. (John 11:3, 35 & 36).  Jesus performed many miracles, but Lazarus is one of only three people that Jesus raised from the dead.  The raising of Lazarus is significant because Jesus was told Lazarus was sick but he waited two full days before even going to see him.  Lazarus had been dead and entombed for 4 days before Jesus even arrived on scene.  Jesus called Lazarus from the grave with the command, “Lazarus, come out!”.  (John 11:43).  This miracle was witnessed by many and further incited the animosity of the Chief Priests and Scribes, who plotted in earnest to have Jesus arrested.  

After being brought back to life, Lazarus and his family were exiled from Bethany by Jewish leaders hostile to the new faith.  Tradition records that Lazarus became a missionary to Gaul and was the first bishop of Marseilles, France.  He died a second time, and for good this time, a martyr for the faith in the persecutions of Domitian, sometime in the second half of the first century. He was beheaded in a cave near Marseilles, France.  Some of his relics remain in Marseilles, others have been enshrined in the Cathedral of Saint Lazare, in Autun, France.  The tomb of Lazarus and the house of Mary and Martha can still be visited today.  They are located on the West Bank of Isreal in a town called El Azaria, under the Church of Saint Lazarus.  

Patron Saint of: Diocese of Autun, France, Archdiocese of Marseille, France,

Feast Day:  July 29th

St. Lazarus, you lived in Bethany with your sisters Mary and Martha. You were good friends with Jesus and saw Him often. When you died from an illness, it was one of Jesus’ most outstanding miracles when He raised you from the dead after four days. The performance of this miracle would eventually result in His own death, as it was the deciding factor in the Pharisees decision to have Him killed. According to tradition, after Jesus’ Ascension into heaven, you and your sister sailed to Gaul, now modern day France. From there you three went your separate ways. You journeyed to Marseilles and converted many people there, becoming the first bishop of that city. During the persecution of the Emperor Domitian you were imprisoned and beheaded. Your body is buried in Autun and your head in Marseilles.

St. Lazarus, to be such a close friend of the earthly Jesus is an honor which many of us stand in awe of. Pray that we may remember that He is also our dearest friend, and closer to us in the Holy Eucharist than He is was to you in your lifetime. St. Lazarus, your resurrection also made you a target of the Pharisees’ deadly malice, in that this miracle was causing many people to believe in Jesus. Pray that the example of your rising from the dead may continue to draw in more believers. St. Lazarus, you now live in joy with your friend forever and ever. Pray that we may one day join you in singing His praises. Amen.

St. Lazarus of Bethany, pray for us!

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  1. Today the Liturgical Calendar celebrates St. Martha. I went to daily mass today and the gospel was Martha proclaiming her faith in Jesus when he comes to visit her when Lazarus dies. This made me think about Martha's great faith. She believes even when Lazarus dies. That is why I love the story of Lazarus so much. I found the Church tradition of what Lazarus did after Jesus death fascinating. I never think of Lazarus as a saint nor a martyr. I think of him as the man who Jesus raised from the dead. Thank you for sharing amazing information about the saints each week. Keep up the good work!