Thursday, December 17, 2009

St. Lazarus

The Traditions:

Saint Lazarus was born in Bethany and he had two sisters, Martha and Mary. Jesus was friends with Lazarus and visited often with his family. Saint Lazarus is known as the Patron Saint of the Poor and Sick by the Catholic Church.

The story of Saint Lazarus begins when he gets ill at the age of 30. At the age of 30 Lazarus contracted leprosy an illness that did not have a cure and died shortly after.

Leprosy is a disease that shows up as skin lesions. The lesions grow deeper and deeper and affect the nerve and organs.

The word Leprosy comes from the Greek Language and it mean Fish Scales.

Both Mary and Martha Lazarus's sisters send word to Jesus of Lazarus condition and hoped that he would come and visit. Jesus received word and started his journey to Lazarus. Once Jesus arrived Lazarus had passed away and had been buried for four days. Both Mary and Martha thought that it was too late because Lazarus had passed but Jesus went directly to his grave.

When Jesus arrived at Lazarus grave he began to pray. Once he completed his prayer he stood up and said in a loud voice "Lazarus, Come Out!" and Lazarus emerged from his grave. Jesus had performed a resurrection and Lazarus was alive and walking. Both Jesus and Lazarus walked back to his home in the cloth Lazarus had been buried in. This became a testament to the miracles of Jesus.

The devotion and friendship that already existed from Lazarus to Jesus grew. As a faithful follower Lazarus became a prophet and a significant Christian that would have a strong impact with people everywhere he went. Lazarus went to live to the age of 60 and died and was buried Sarcophagus at Kition. His tomb was transferred to Constantinople where is tomb reads "The Four Day Lazarus, Friend of Christ"

In the Catholic tradition all saints are depicted in statues and Saint Lazarus is no different. The statue for Saint Lazarus is usually depicted as a poor man in crutches with dogs around him. His clothing will be minimal and usually in the color purple. Saint Lazarus Feast Day or the day of observation for Saint Lazarus is December 17th.

Both of Saint Lazarus sisters are recognized as saints in their own right. Saint Martha is considered the patron Saint of Servants and Cooks. The day of observance or Feast Day for Saint Martha is July 29th. Saint Mary's feast Day or Day of Observance is July 22nd.

The Catholic Church invokes sick people and people with AIDS to Saint Lazarus for prayer and hope. Prayer to Saint Lazarus can be in a form of a Novena, Rosary Prayers or a specific prayer taken from the bible. Catholic traditions involves presenting the saint of devotion with flowers and candles as well will you invoke them.

Greek Orthodox Saints:

St. Lazarus was born in Bethany, a small town near Jerusalem. 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. His sisters Martha and Maria informed Jesus of the seriousness of his condition but he did not seem to be concerned. By the time Jesus arrived at Bethany, Lazarus was dead and buried for four days. Jesus went straight to his grave, he prayed and then raised his voice: "Lazarus, come out", he shouted. And indeed, in a while Lazarus came out of the grave wrapped with his burial cloth. He was un-wrapped and returned with Jesus to his house, accompanied by the crowd.

Following this miracle even more people believed in Christ and followed his teachings. This was the reason why the leaders of the Jews decided to assassinate him. When Lazarus learnt about their plans he found refused at Kition (Larnaca) of Cyprus. There he was met by the apostles Paul and Barnabas, who ordained him as the first bishop of Kition. Lazarus became an example of a Christian. His physical presence was an indication of God's love for his people while his spiritual activity symbolized the love of man for God.

Lazarus died at the age of sixty and was buried in a sarcophagus at Kition with an inscription "The four-day Lazarus, friend of Christ". In 890 AD the emperor of Byzantium Leon VI Sophos transferred Lazarus' remains to Constantinople and in return he built a church at Larnaca devoted to St. Lazarus. The church survives to this date.

St. Lazarus:

Lazarus is the poor man at the gate of the rich man in Christ's parable related in Luke. (Luke 16:19-31) His name was perpetuated in the Middle Ages by such words as Lazaretto (hospital), Lazarone (a beggar in the street), and the Order of St. Lazarus, which though a military order, had as one of its objectives, the care of lepers. His feast day is June 21st.

Catholic Encyclopedia:

Reputed first Bishop of Marseilles, died in the second half of the first century.

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, of whom alone we have to treat here, went to Marseilles, and, having converted a number of its inhabitants to Christianity, became their first pastor. 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 Vézelay, 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 question, however, deserved to be examined with care, seeing that, according to a tradition of the Greek Church, the body of St. Lazarus had been brought to Constantinople, just as all the other saints of the Palestinian group were said to have died in the Orient, and to have been buried, translated, and honoured there. It is only in the thirteenth century that the belief that Lazarus had come to Gaul with his two sisters and had been Bishop of Marseilles spread in Provence.

It is true that a letter is cited (its origin is uncertain), written in 1040 by Pope Benedict IX on the occasion of the consecration of the new church of St.-Victor in which Lazarus is mentioned. But in this text the pope speaks only of relics of St. Lazarus, merely calling him the saint who was raised again to life. He does not speak of him as having lived in Provence, or as having been Bishop of Marseilles.

The most ancient Provençal text alluding to the episcopacy of St. Lazarus is a passage in the "Otia imperialia" of Gervase of Tillbury (1212). Thus the belief in his Provençal apostolate is of very late date, and its supporters must produce more ancient and reliable documentary evidence. In the crypt of St.-Victor at Marseilles an epitaph of the of the fifth century has been discovered, which informs us that a bishop named Lazarus was buried there.

In the opinion of the most competent archæologists, however, this personage is Lazarus, Bishop of Aix, who was consecrated at Marseilles about 407, and who, having had to abandon his see in 411, passed some time in Palestine, whence he returned to end his days in Marseilles. It is more than likely that it is the name of this bishop and his return from Palestine, that gave rise to the legend of the coming of the Biblical Lazarus to Provence, and his apostolate in the city of Marseilles.

Read more about this Saint here, here, here.

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