Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Saint December 17 : St. Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the Dead and Brother of St. Martha, St. Mary Magdalene


The Bible depicts two characters named "Lazarus". The most recognized character is that of Lazarus of Bethany, also known as Saint Lazarus or Lazarus of the Four Days, who was a friend of Jesus, the brother of Martha and Mary. The miracle of Jesus in the Gospel of John, whereby Jesus restores Lazarus to life four days after his death (John 11). [2] In the various narratives on this character, he is sometimes vested as an apostle, or a bishop.

The second character, Lazarus found in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 16:19-31) tells of the relationship in life and in death, between an unnamed rich man (the traditional name for a rich man is "Dives") and a poor beggar named Lazarus. Lazarus was venerated as a patron saint of lepers [3] and forms the basis of one of two missions of the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem which is dedicated to two ideals: aid to those suffering from the dreadful disease of leprosy and the defense of the Christian faith. Lazarus is often depicted as a starving beggar at the foot of the stairs leading up to a rich man's house, and who was covered in sores that even the dogs came to lick those sores. [4]

The Gospel of John can be divided into four sections: a) Prologue (John 1); b) Jesus' ministry (the "book of signs" - John 2-12): A narrative of Jesus' public ministry consisting of seven miracles or "signs" culminating with the raising of Lazarus form the dead; c) passion and resurrection (the "book of glory" - John 13-20); d) Epilogue (John 21). For convenience and interest, the paragraph describing Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead follows:
John 11:38-44
38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance.
39 “Take away the stone,” he said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.
42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”
44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.

Edited from: https://www.stlazarus.ca/content/oslj-st-lazarus.php
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Excerpt from the 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 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. Source: New Advent

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