Saint of the Day – 31 August – Saint Joseph of Arimathea (Died 1st Century)

Saint of the Day – 31 August – Saint Joseph of Arimathea (Died 1st Century) “The Secret Disciple of Jesus” Born in Arimathea, Palestine and died in the 1st century. coffin-bearers, pallbearers, funeral directors, morticians, undertakers, tin miners, tin smiths, Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Vancouver, Glastonbury Cathedral. Additional Memorial – 16 October (translation of relics to Jerusalem).

St Joseph of Arimathea by Pietro Perugino, a detail from his Lamentation over the Dead Christ.

The only definitive information we have concerning Joseph of Arimathea comes to us from the four Gospel accounts of Jesus’ Passion, Death and Resurrection. Many other legends exist that detail what happened to him after these events took place and, although they make interesting reading, none of them can be verified as the truth.

What we do know is that Joseph of Arimathea was a wealthy member of the Sanhedrin and a follower of Jesus, although a secret one “for fear of the Jews” (Jn 19:38). Described as a “good and just man” in the Gospel of Luke (23:50), he was one of the Jewish leaders who did not take part in the condemnation of Jesus on the night we call Maundy or Holy Thursday. Instead, after Jesus’ death, Joseph boldly asked Pontius Pilate for His Body so that it could receive a proper burial before the Sabbath, which began at sundown. This was a more courageous act on Joseph’s part than we might imagine, as Jesus had died a condemned criminal, publicly executed for sedition.

Remarkably, Pilate agreed and Joseph, along with another of Jesus’ secret followers, Nicodemus, arranged to have the body prepared for burial according to Jewish custom – Jesus was then laid in Joseph’s own tomb, which was as yet unused and newly hewn out of rock. Finally, a large stone was rolled in front of the tomb’s entrance, the same stone that would later be found rolled away on Easter Sunday morning.

At this point, the biblical story of Joseph comes to a close and the legendary stories begin. During the Middle Ages, Joseph’s narrative somehow became connected with the lore surrounding King Arthur; he is featured in a 12th-century tale by Robert de Boron as the Keeper of the Holy Grail, which was the cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper. An earlier version of the story has Joseph receiving the cup from an apparition of Jesus, which later finds its way to Great Britain by way of some of Joseph’s followers. A revised version has Joseph himself coming to the British Isles with the Grail, which he subsequently buried in a secret place. It was this Holy Grail which was at the centre of so many Arthurian quests.

Glastonbury Abbey also lays claim to part of Joseph’s legend. It is said that when Joseph arrived in Great Britain with the Grail around the year 63, he landed on the island of Avalon and climbed the hill there. Weary from his journey, he thrust his staff into the ground and rested, by morning, the staff had taken root and produced a thorn tree, which reportedly bloomed every Christmas. It was also upon this land that Joseph and 12 of his followers are said to have built Glastonbury Abbey, although it was actually constructed around the seventh century. Today it is maintained as an important archeological site.

Legends aside, it is Joseph’s service to Jesus our Saviour and Redeemer, that Christians remember today.

Merciful God, Whose servant, Joseph of Arimathaea
with reverence and godly fear,
prepared the Body of our Lord and Saviour for burial
and laid it in his own tomb –
Grant to us, Your faithful people,
grace and courage to love and serve Jesus
with sincere devotion all the days of our life.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord,
Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.


Our Lady of the Founders (5th Century) Constantinople and Memorials of the Saints – 31 August

Our Lady of the Founders – The Relic of the Girdle of Our Lady, Constantinople (5th Century) – 31 August:

The Abbot Giovanni Battista Orsini tells us the Empress Saint Pulcheria had this Church built, and gave to it the Girdle of Our Lady. A feast of this relic is kept at Constantinople, under the title of the Deposition of Our Lady’s Girdle. The French having taken this City, this precious treasure was carried off by Nivellon, Bishop of Soissons and placed in the celebrated Abbey of Our Lady, with a portion of the veil of that Queen of Heaven.

The Empress Saint Pulcheria lived in Constantinople in the 5th century, and she built many Churches, hospitals and public houses for the destitute. She is responsible for at least three Churches in Constantinople that were dedicated to the Blessed Virgin – the Blachemae, the Chalkoprateia and the Hodegetria.
The Church of the Virgin of Blachernae, now known as the Church of Panagia of Blachernae, is located in Istanbul. It was once the most celebrated Shrine in Constantinople and lies inside the high walls of the City, only a short distance from the Golden Horn. The Church was begun by the Empress Pulcheria, and completed by her husband, the Emperor Marcian. It was built upon the site of what was thought to be a sacred spring, the waters of which are still thought to have therapeutic value. The Emperor Leo I made several additions, including the Hagai Soros, which was actually a small Chapel next to the Church where the Holy Robe and Girdle of the Blessed Virgin Mary were kept in a silver and gold reliquary. The relics had been brought from Palestine in 458.

In the year 911 it was reported that there was a Marian apparition at this Church. The City was under siege by a large Muslim army, so the citizens of Constantinople had recourse to Mary, praying for relief at the Blachernae Church. Very early one morning the Blessed Virgin, preceded by a host of Angels, was seen to enter through the Church doors, escorted by Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Apostle. She advanced to the centre of the Church and knelt there to pray fervently with tears in her eyes. After a time she moved to the Altar and continued praying before she removed her veil and held it out over the faithful as she ascended back into Heaven. This was seen as a sign that she was taking the City under her protection and so it happened that the Christian’s won a striking victory over their enemies, who were driven off.
The City of Constantinople came under siege during the Fourth Crusade in the year 1203 and was captured in April of 1204. The Bishop Nivelon de Cherisy was one of the first men to scale the walls of mighty Constantinople when it was finally opened to the Crusaders. Despite the fact that there was a stern prohibition against plundering relics from Churches and monasteries, many holy relics were obtained and brought back to the West. Bishop Conrad of Halberstadt, Abbot Martin of Pairis, and Nivelon of Soiccons were known to have taken relics. Nivelon of Soiccons enriched his Cathedral at Soissons with several important relics. Robert of Clari later includes in a list of relics he viewed at the Church of the Blessed Virgin of the Pharos (Lighthouse) the Crown of Thorns, the Virgin’s Robe, the Head of St John the Baptist and two large pieces of the True Cross. The robe was a large portion of the sleeveless shirt worn by the Virgin Mary, as well as her Girdle.

Francesco d’Antonio – Madonna della Cintola

St Aidan of Lindisfarne (Died 651) Apostle of Northumbria, Bishop, Monk, Missionary, Abbot, Ascetic.
St Aidan’s Story:

St Ammi of Caesarea
St Aristides the Philosopher
St Barbolenus of Bobbio
St Caesidius
St Cuthburgh of Wimborne
St Cwenburgh of Wimborne
St Joseph of Arimathea (Died 1st Century) “The Secret Disciple of Jesus”
St Mark of Milan
St Optatus of Auxerre

St Paulinus of Trier (Died 358) Bishop of Trier, Confessor, Missionary.
About this Saint Paulinus:

Blessed Pere (Peter) Tarrés i Claret (1905-1950) Priest, Medical Doctor, Co-Founder, with Dr Gerrado Manresa, of a clinic for the poor, dedicated to the Blessed Mother.
His Life:

St Raymond Nonnatus O.deM. (1204-1240) Religious Priest, Confessor, Cardinal, Founder of the Mercedarian Order.
Biography here:

St Raymond Nonnatus Robustian of Milan
St Raymond Nonnatus Rufina of Caesarea
St Raymond Nonnatus Theodotus of Caesarea

Martyrs of Prague – 64 beati

Martyred in the Spanish Civil War:
Martyrs of Pozo de la Lagarta – 18 beati:
• Blessed Bernardo Cembranos Nistal
• Blessed Dionisio Ullivarri Barajuán
• Blessed Enrique Vidaurreta Palma
• Blessed Félix Paco Escartín
• Blessed Germán Martín y Martín
• Blessed Isidro Ordóñez Díez
• Blessed José María Palacio Montes
• Blessed Justo Zariquiegui Mendoza
• Blessed Marciano Herrero Martínez
• Blessed Miguel Menéndez García
• Blessed Tomás Alonso Sanjuán
• Blessed Ventureta Sauleda Paulís