St. Lazarus of Bethany
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.
The miracle of Lazarus
The Raising of Lazarus (1967-69) by Ivor Williams
In the Gospel of John (John 11:1) Lazarus, also called Lazarus of Bethany or Lazarus of the Four Days was a man who lived in the town of Bethany ("Lazarus from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha", John 11:1). The sisters are immediately identified: "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 Jesus that the one he loved was ill. Jesus tarried where he was, and when he arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days, and Martha reproached him. (Jesus had only delayed his travel by two days, implying that even if he had set out immediately, Lazarus would have died.) When Jesus assured her that Lazarus would rise, she took his meaning for the resurrection on Judgment Day, to which he replied, "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die" (John 11:25–26 KJV). In the presence of a crowd of Jewish mourners, Jesus had the stone rolled away from the tomb and bade Lazarus to come out, and so he did, still wrapped in his grave-cloths. Jesus then called for his followers (friends and family alike) to remove the grave-cloths. The narrator claims many other Jews were convinced of Jesus' divinity after visiting Lazarus, but says no more of the individual. The miracle, the longest coherent narrative in John aside from the Passion, is the climax of John's "signs". It explains the crowds seeking Jesus on Palm Sunday, and leads directly to the decision of Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin to kill Jesus.
The developed Lazarus legend
Lazarus the beggar and Lazarus the resurrected were combined in Romanesque iconography carved on portals in Burgundy and Provence.
According to Christian tradition recorded in the 13th century Golden Legend, Lazarus was the brother of Martha and Mary Magdalene, a Pharisee, but because of the rumoured plots fled for his life to Cyprus. There he later became the first bishop of Larnaka/Kittim, appointed directly by Paul and Barnabas, and lived another thirty years. Further establishing the apostolic nature of Lazarus' appointment was the story that the bishop's pallium was presented to Lazarus by the Virgin Mary, who had woven it herself. Such apostolic connections were central to the claims to autocephaly made by the bishops of Kittim—subject to the patriarch of Jerusalem—during the period 325–413. The church of Kittim was declared (or confirmed) self-governing in 413. Stories say that he would always include something sweet in every meal. That was when he observed someone stealing a clay pot, causing him to smile and say with a laugh, "clay stealing clay".
In the West, an alternative medieval tradition sent Mary, Martha, and Lazarus to Gaul after the Crucifixion. Provencal tradition, in particular, held Lazarus as the first bishop of Marseille, while Martha purportedly went on to tame a terrible beast in nearby Tarascon. Pilgrims visited their tombs at the abbey of Vézelay in Burgundy. In the Abbey of the Trinity at Vendôme, a phylactery was said to contain a tear shed by Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus. The cathedral of Autun, not far away, is dedicated to Lazarus as Saint Lazare.
In the section In paradisum, which often appears embedded in the Requiem, the deceased is wished to Paradise—In paradisum deducant te Angeli— with Lazarus, who once was poor (cum Lazaro quondam paupere); the text reminds us how often the Lazarus of John, who possessed a rock-cut tomb and was resurrected, has been conflated with the beggar Lazarus of Luke.
The Legenda Aurea records the grand lifestyle imagined for Lazarus and his sisters in the 14th century:
Mary Magdalene had her surname of Magdalo, a castle, and was born of right noble lineage and parents, which were descended of the lineage of kings. And her father was named Cyrus, and her mother Eucharis. She with her brother Lazarus, and her sister Martha, possessed the castle of Magdalo, which is two miles from Nazareth, and Bethany, the castle which is nigh to Jerusalem, and also a great part of Jerusalem, which, all these things they departed among them. In such wise that Mary had the castle Magdalo, whereof she had her name Magdalene. And Lazarus had the part of the city of Jerusalem, and Martha had to her part Bethany. And when Mary gave herself to all delights of the body, and Lazarus entended all to knighthood, Martha, which was wise, governed nobly her brother's part and also her sister's, and also her own, and administered to knights, and her servants, and to poor men, such necessities as they needed. Nevertheless, after the ascension of our Lord, they sold all these things. (Legenda Aurea, Book iv, "Of Mary Magdalene")
Tombs of Lazarus
The first tomb in Bethany is a place of pilgrimage today. Lazarus's second tomb in Cyprus is the site of the Byzantine church, the most notable feature of ancient Kittim (now Larnaka). The discovery and transfer of his relics from Cyprus to Constantinople in 898 is remembered each year on October 17, apostrophized by Arethas, bishop of Caesarea; however, on November 2, 1972, human remains in a marble sarcophagus under the altar were discovered during renovation works in the church at Larnaka, and were identified with part of the saint's relics.
The relics from Constantinople were transferred to France in 1204 as part of the booty of war from the Fourth Crusade.
Main article: Order of Saint Lazarus
The Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem is a religious/military order, purportedly dating back to the First Crusade. The Order is run by two distinct channels of authority, referred to as the Malta Obedience and the Paris Obedience.
Lazarus is honored as a saint by those Christian churches which keep the commemoration of saints, although on different days, according to local traditions.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church as well as the Byzantine Catholic Church, the day before Palm Sunday is celebrated as Lazarus Saturday. This day, together with Palm Sunday, hold a unique position in the church year, as days of joy and triumph between the penitence of Great Lent and the mourning of Holy Week. During the preceding week, the hymns in the Lenten Triodion track the sickness and then the death of Lazarus, and Christ's journey from beyond Jordan to Bethany. The scripture readings and hymns for Lazarus Saturday focus on the resurrection of Lazarus as a foreshadowing of the Resurrection of Christ, and a promise of the General Resurrection. The Gospel narrative is interpreted in the hymns as illustrating the two natures of Christ: his humanity in asking, "Where have ye laid him?" (John 11:34), and his divinity by commanding Lazarus to come forth from the dead (John 11:43). Many of the Resurectional hymns of the normal Sunday service, which are omitted on Palm Sunday, are chanted on Lazaurs Saturday. During the Divine Liturgy, the Baptismal Hymn, "As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Romans 6:3), is sung in place of the Trisagion. Although the forty days of Great Lent end on the day before Lazarus Saturday, the day is still observed as a fast; however, it is somewhat mitigated. In Russia, it is traditional to eat caviar on Lazarus Saturday.
In the Roman Catholic Church Saint Lazarus' memorial is on June 21. In Cuba a major festival is dedicated to San Lázaro (synchronised with Babalu Ayé in Santería), but on December 17. He is commemorated in the Calendar of Saints of the Lutheran Church on July 29 together with Mary and Martha.
Lazarus is also a representation of Omulu/Abaluaye in Brazilian Umbanda.
In Christian funerals the idea of the deceased being raised by the Lord as Lazarus was raised is often expressed in prayer.
In modern culture
Well-known as an established tale, Lazarus has appeared countless times in music, writing and art. A few example citations of the tale:
· Among the painted depictions of Lazarus is the work Lazarus Breaking His Fast by Walter Sickert, which hangs in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh and "Gare Saint-Lazare" by Claude Monet, after a train station in Paris by the same name.
· The bands The Boo Radleys, Chimaira, Fozzy, moe., Placebo, and Porcupine Tree have each composed a song titled "Lazarus".
· Other songs that refer to Lazarus include "Our Friend Lazarus Sleeps" by I Am Ghost, "Sleepwalk Capsules" by At the Drive-In, "Ali in the Jungle" by The Hours, "Lazarus Man" by Terry Callier, "Long Snake Moan" by PJ Harvey, "Lazarus (In The Wilderness) by Funeral for a Friend, "Death March" by Jedi Mind Tricks, "The Lazarus Heart" by Sting and "Ghost" by Clutch.
· Dave Swarbrick has also recently formed a band called Lazarus with Maartin Allcock and Kevin Dempsey.
· Lazarus is mentioned in several notable works of literature, including Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T. S. Eliot, A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr., Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, A Separate Peace by John Knowles, The Famished Road by Ben Okri, "[Jude the Obscure]" by Thomas Hardy, and "Lazarus" by Leonid Andreyev.
· Several novels of Robert A. Heinlein involve Lazarus Long, a name taken by Woodrow Wilson Smith, a character who lives over 2000 years.
· Sylvia Plath wrote a poem called "Lady Lazarus".
· On film, the name "Lazarus" is used in the movies Mr. Stitch, Casper, Black Snake Moan and Slam.
· In computer software, Lazarus is referenced by the 1995 computer game Diablo, the DiskDoctor utility in the Commodore Amiga Old File System, and the video games Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories and BioShock.
· On television, "Lazarus" appears in The X-Files ("Lazarus"), Stargate SG-1 ("Cold Lazarus"), Doctor Who ("The Lazarus Experiment"), and Star Trek episodes "The Alternative Factor" and "Requiem for Methuselah".
· In the Batman comic books, villain Ra's al Ghul renegerates his body in a Lazarus pit.
Martha (Judæo-Aramaic מַרְתָּא Martâ "The lady", French Sainte Marthe) is a figure mentioned only in the Bible. No other historical detail about her is known. According to the gospel of John, she was the sister of Lazarus and Mary, and she witnessed her brother's resurrection. In the canonical Scripture, Martha is mentioned only in Luke 10:38-42; and John 11, 12, sqq. The Aramaic form occurs in a Nabatean inscription found at Puteoli, and now in the Naples Museum; it is dated AD. 5 (Corpus Inscr. Semit., 158); also in a Palmyrene inscription, where the Greek translation has the form Marthein, AD. 179. She is a character in the gnostic Pistis Sophia. She is mentioned in the gospel
Mary, Martha, and Lazarus are depicted by John as living at Bethany, but Luke would seem to imply that they were, at least at one time, living in Galilee; he does not mention the name of the town, but it may have been Magdala, and we should thus, supposing Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalene to be the same person, understand the appellative "Magdalene". The words of John (11:1) seem to imply a change of residence for the family. It is possible, too, that Luke has displaced the incident referred to in Chapter 10. The likeness between the pictures of Martha presented by Luke and John is very remarkable. The familiar intercourse between the Saviour of the world and the humble family which Luke depicts is dwelt on by John when he tells us that "Jesus loved Martha, and her sister Mary, and Lazarus" (11:5). Again the picture of Martha's anxiety (John 11:20-21, 39) accords with the picture of her who was "busy about much serving" (Luke 10:40); so also in John 12:2: "They made him a supper there: and Martha served." But St. John has given us a glimpse of the other and deeper side of her character when he depicts her growing faith in Christ's Divinity (11:20-27), a faith which was the occasion of the words: "I am the resurrection and the life." The Evangelist has beautifully indicated the change that came over Martha after that interview: "When she had said these things, she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying: The Master is come, and calleth for thee."
Difficulties have been raised about the last supper at Bethania. John seems to put it six days before the Pasch, and, so some conclude, in the house of Martha; while the Synoptic account puts it two days before the Pasch, and in the house of Simon the Leper. We need not try to avoid this difficulty by asserting that there were two suppers; for John does not say that the supper took place six days before, but only that Christ arrived in Bethania six days before the Pasch; nor does he say that it was in the house of Martha. We are surely justified in arguing that, since Matthew and Mark place the scene in the house of Simon, St. John must be understood to say the same; it remains to be proved that Martha could not "serve" in Simon's house.
St Martha's Collegiate Church in Tarascon
Expansion of the Martha tradition
According to Eastern Orthodox tradition, Martha went to Cyprus with her siblings Mary and Lazarus, where Lazarus was appointed the first bishop of Kition. All three died in Cyprus.
According to one legend, Martha left Judea after Jesus's death, around AD 48, and went to Provence with her sister Mary (potentially Mary Magdalene) and her brother Lazarus. Martha first settled in Avignon (now in France), then went to Tarascon, where a monster, the Tarasque, was a constant threat to the population. Martha managed to tame the monster and eventually died in Tarascon, where she was buried. Her tomb is located in the crypt of the local Collegiate Church.
Martha is a Christian saint in the Eastern Orthodox churches and the Lutheran Church. Her feast day is June 4th and July 29 in the Roman Catholic tradition. Among the Orthodox, she is commemorated collectively with the other Myrrh-bearing Women on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers (the Third Sunday of Pascha—i.e., the second Sunday after Easter). She also figures in the commemorations of Lazarus Saturday (the day before Palm Sunday).