The Life of St. Lazarus
St. Lazarus of Bethany was brother to Mary and Martha and a known close friend of Jesus. He was very sick; some historians believe he had leprosy. He was a poor man and was often found lying at the gates of rich men begging for table scraps while street animals licked his wounds. Shortly before His crucifixion, Christ left Bethany to preach in a nearby area. While away, He received word that Lazarus had fallen ill and died. Jesus delayed his return to Bethany until after Lazarus’ body was placed in a tomb. Christ returned to Bethany four days after Lazarus’ burial at which time he went to the tomb and commanded Lazarus come out. To the surrounding crowd’s surprise, Lazarus appeared. Still wrapped in his burial shroud, Lazarus had been resurrected. St. Lazarus’ resurrection was a significant event prior to Christ’s resurrection as it was a miracle that provided reassurance to Christ’s followers and foreshadowed Christ’s own resurrection which followed 8 days later. With rising tensions in the Jerusalem preceding Christ’s crucifixion, Lazarus became a target and was compelled to seek refuge Cyprus away from the high priests and pharisees who wanted to kill him. St. Lazarus lived a long life following his resurrection. In 52 AD he invited the Theotokos to visit him in Cyprus. The ship he had sent to the Holy Land for the Theotokos’ journey blew off course leading to her discovery of Mount Athos. Later Apostles Paul and Barnabas ordained St. Lazarus the first Bishop of Kition and he served for 30 years until he passed away. St. Lazarus is commemorated on March 17 and on Lazarus Saturday, the final Saturday of Great Lent just prior to Palm Sunday. His relics were moved from Cyprus to Constantinople in 898 AD which is commemorated annually on October 17. People around the world pray to him as he is the patron saint of the poor and sick.
Discussion around St. Lazarus
- Christ resurrection of St. Lazarus’ reassured many of his followers of his divinity. Are there times you’ve needed reassurance? Did you get it? What did that look like for you?
- In what ways did St. Lazarus live that revealed he truly believed in the resurrection? How can we mirror that in our own lives?
Learn his Troparion
Troparion — Tone 1
By raising Lazarus from the dead before Your passion, / You did confirm the universal Resurrection, O Christ God! / Like the children with the palms of victory, / we cry out to You, O Vanquisher of death: / Hosanna in the Highest! / Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord!
The Raising of Lazarus - Tone 1
Prayer on the Saturday of the Righteous Lazarus
O Christ our God, Who by Thy voice didst release Lazarus from the bonds of death after four days in the tomb, restoring him again to life: Thyself. O Master, enliven us who are deadened by sins, granting life that none can take away; and make us who put our hope in Thee, heirs of life without end. For Thou art our Life and Resurrection, and to Thee belongeth glory: together with Thine immortal Father, and Thine All-holy, and Good, and Life-creating Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.