St Martha was the sister of Mary of Bethany and Lazarus who was raised from the dead by Jesus Christ. Mary of Bethany was often confused with Mary Magdalene or the sinful woman but it was later clarified that they are separate people. The feast of Mary Magdalene was set for July 22 and that of Mary of Bethany was set on July 29 together with her siblings Martha and Lazarus. Saint Lazarus is also known as Lazarus of Bethany or Lazarus of the Four Days.
|Saints Martha, Mary and Lazarus Biography|
|Date of Birth||1st-century|
|Place of Birth||Bethany|
|Feast Day||July 29|
Saint Martha, St Mary of Bethany and St Lazarus History
Below are the several instances where they are mentioned in the Bible:
Jesus at the home of Martha and Mary
Martha was so focused on doing the outward things of this world while her sister Mary focused on listening to the everlasting words from Jesus.
38 As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.Luke 10:38-42
39 She had a sister named Mary [who] sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.
40 Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.”
41 The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.
42 There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”
The Raising of Lazarus at Bethany
Lazarus had died and his sisters, Martha and Mary, sent a word to Jesus that the one He loved had died. Jesus was far way from Bethany, which is two miles from Jerusalem, His disciples were afraid of going back there because the Jews had attempted to kill Him. But Jesus insisted that they go back and raise Lazarus from the dead.
Four days after Lazarus had died, Jesus arrived in Bethany and Martha went to meet Him on the way as Mary remained at home. After Jesus told her that He is the life and resurrection, she replied, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”
Jesus went home and raised Lazarus from the dead.
1 Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.John 11:1-44
23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.”
24 Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.”
25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,
26 and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
27 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.”
41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me.
42 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.”
43 And when he had said this, he cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”
44 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.”
Anointing of Jesus Feet by Mary
Jesus had arrived in Bethany some six days before Passover and dinner was prepared for Him at Martha, Mary and Lazarus’s home. Lazarus was seated at the table and Martha was serving food. This is the time that Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil and anointed the feet of Jesus. It is at this incidence that the Jews plotted to kill Lazarus.
1 Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.John 12:1-10
2 They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him.
3 Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.
4 Then Judas the Iscariot, one [of] his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said,
5 “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?”
6 He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions.
7 So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial.
8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”
9 [The] large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came, not only because of Jesus, but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.
10 And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too,
11 because many of the Jews were turning away and believing in Jesus because of him.
The Tomb of Lazarus in Bethany
The tomb in Bethany where Lazarus was laid when he had died for four days is today a place of pilgrimage where millions of people from different faiths frequent every year. Churches and Mosques have been built near the tomb.
St Lazarus the Bishop of Kition
There is an adage that sometime after Jesus Christ rose from the dead, Lazarus heard of a plot to kill him and he fled Judea and went to Cyprus. While there, St Barnabas and St Paul the Apostle appointed him as the first bishop of Kition (modern-day Larnaka), where he lived for thirty more years. It is also said that his sisters Mary and Martha went with him and died there.
It is said that after Lazarus was raised from the dead by Jesus, he seldom smiled because he was constantly worried after being shown the suffering and unredeemed souls in hell. But at one time, it was recorded that he smiled after he saw someone stealing a pot, and with a smile, he remarked, “the clay steals the clay.”
St Lazarus the Bishop of Marseille
Another adage goes that when after the resurrection of Jesus and the Jews became hostile to Christians, Lazarus, Mary, and Martha were put out to sea in a rudderless vessel without sails helm, or oars and they miraculously landed in Provence, France (modern-day called Saintes-Maries). They then went on different ways preaching the Gospel.
Lazarus went to Marseille and became the first Bishop of Marseille. He was imprisoned and beheaded. Later, his body was transferred and was buried in the Autun Cathedral. But Christians in Marseille still claim to have remained with the head.
Before, The memorial of Saint Martha was celebrated alone on July 29 in the Catholic Church. But on January 26, 2021, Pope Francis, after a recommendation from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, added Saints Mary and Lazarus into the General Roman Calendar, and replaced the existing celebration of Saint Martha alone to be the Memorial of Saints Martha, Mary and Lazarus. The Obligatory Memorial still remains on July 29.
During Mass, while celebrating the memorial, the following are to be used;
Entrance Antiphon (Cf. Lk 10:38)
Jesus entered a village,
where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home.
Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that the example of your Saints may spur us on to a better life,
so that we, who celebrate the memory of Saints Martha,
Mary and Lazarus,
may also imitate without ceasing their deeds.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever.
Communion Antiphon – Jn 11:27
Martha said to Jesus:
You are the Christ, the Son of God,
who is coming into this world.
Prayer after Communion
May the holy reception of the Body and Blood
of your Only Begotten Son, O Lord,
turn us away from the cares of this fallen world,
so that, following the example of Saints Martha, Mary and Lazarus,
we may grow in sincere love for you on earth
and rejoice to behold you for eternity in heaven.
Through Christ our Lord.
St Martha is the Patron Saint of
- Villajoyosa, Spain
- Single laywomen
- Laundry workers
- Domestic servants
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