Saint of the Day – 17 December – Saint Lazarus of Bethany (1st Century) Friend amd Disciple of Jesus, raised to life by Jesus after having been in his tomb for 4 days, brother of Sts Martha and Mary of Bethany, Bishop of Marseilles, France, , Martyr, Missionary. Died by being beheaded in the 1st century in a cave near Marseilles, France. Patronages – Autun, France, Diocese of, Marseille, France, Archdiocese of. Also known as – “Eleazar (the Hebrew version – which means ‘God helped‘),” Lazarus of the Four Days, Lazarus the Resurrected, Lazare…
According to a tradition, or rather a series of traditions combined at different epochs, the members of the family at Bethany, the friends of Christ, together with some holy women and others of His disciples, were put out to sea by the Jews hostile to Christianity in a vessel without sails, oars, or helm and after a miraculous voyage landed in Provence, at a place called today the Saintes-Maries. It is related that they separated there to go and preach the Gospel in different parts of the southeast of Gaul.
Lazarus went to Marseilles and, having converted a number of its inhabitants to Christianity, became their first Bishop. . During the first persecution under Nero, he hid himself in a crypt, over which the celebrated Abbey of St-Victor was constructed in the fifth century. In this same crypt he was interred, when he shed his blood for the Faith., during the new persecution of Domitian. He was cast into prison and beheaded in a spot which is believed to be identical with a cave beneath the prison Saint-Lazare.
His body was later translated to Autun, and buried in the Cathedral of that Town. But the inhabitants of Marseilles claim to be in possession of his head which they still venerate.
Like the other legends concerning the Saints of the Palestinian group, this tradition, which was believed for several centuries and which still finds some advocates, has no solid foundation. It is in a writing, contained in an eleventh century manuscript, with some other documents relating to St Magdalen of Vezelay, that we first read of Lazarus in connection with the voyage that brought Magdalen to Gaul. Before the middle of the eleventh century there does not seem to be the slightest trace of the tradition according to which the Palestinian Saints came to Provence.
At the beginning of the twelfth century, perhaps through a confusion of names, it was believed at Autun, that the tomb of St. Lazarus was to be found in the Cathedral dedicated to St Nazarius. A search was made and remains were discovered, which were solemnly translated and were considered to be those of him whom Christ raised from the dead but it was not thought necessary to inquire why they should be found in France.
The account of Jesus raising Lazarus occurs only in the Gospel of John, the Gospel which most strongly focuses on Jesus as the Son of God. Lazarus served as an instrument for Jesus to provide indisputable proof that he was the Saviour.
Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany, at the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair; it was her brother Lazarus who was ill. So the sisters sent word to him, saying, “Master, the one you love is ill.”
When Jesus heard this he said, “This illness is not to end in death but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. But, when he heard that he was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was. Then after this he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you and you want to go back there?”
Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in a day? If one walks during the day, he does not stumble because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks at night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” He said this,and then told them, “Our friend Lazarus is asleep but I am going to awaken him.”
So the disciples said to him, “Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved.”
But Jesus was talking about his death, while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep. So then Jesus said to them clearly, “Lazarus has died. And I am glad for you that I was not there, that you may believe. Let us go to him.”
So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go to die with him.”
When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away. And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him but Mary sat at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. [But] even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.”
Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the One who is coming into the world.”
When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying, “The teacher is here and is asking for you.”
As soon as she heard this, she rose quickly and went to him. For Jesus had not yet come into the village but was still where Martha had met him. So when the Jews, who were with her in the house comforting her saw Matha, they got up quickly and went out to followed her, presuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?”
They said to him, “Sir, come and see.”
And Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.” But some of them said, “Could not the One who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?”
So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”
Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.”
Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone. And Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.” And when he had said this, he cried out in a loud voice,
“Lazarus, come out!”
The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.”