Saint Lazarus of Bethany

First Century

Memorial: July 29

Saint Lazarus was born in Bethany, a small town near Jerusalem. He was the brother of Mary and Martha of Bethany. The sisters are realli immediately identified: "Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair". Jesus knew his father Simon and used to visit their home every time he was in the area. He developed so a close friendship with Lazarus, who followed his teaching and ideals.

At the age of thirty Lazarus became very ill. He died and was buried the next day. Jesus waited two days after receiving the message of the sisters before he starts to Bethany. He could not have made the journey of about 30 miles in a single day, and hence parts of two days were required. When Jesus arrived, Lazarus had already lain in the grave for four days.

Jesus went to the cave where Lazarus was entombed and commanded him to “come forth,” and he did. The miracle, in the Gospel account, inspired some Jews to accept Jesus as the Messiah. By many this is regarded as the greatest of Christ's miracles.

Later he became the first bishop of Citium, the present Larnaca in Cyprus. There his tomb was discovered in 890. His relics were removed by the Emperor to Constantinople. From there the relics were transferred by the French to Marseille.

Patronage: lepers, leprosy, Order of Saint Lazarus