Lazarus, a central figure in Christian lore, is most famously known as the friend of Jesus, who resurrected him from the dead, as witnessed by many, including his sisters Martha and Mary. This profound act sparked the saying among the Jews, “See how much he loved him.”

Beyond this biblical account, numerous legends have woven a rich tapestry around Lazarus’ life post-resurrection. One such tale recounts that, despite being set adrift near Jaffa in a leaky boat by hostile Jews, Lazarus miraculously landed in Cyprus along with his sisters and others. There, he is said to have lived a life of piety, serving as a bishop for three decades before passing away peacefully.

In Constantinople, Lazarus’ legacy was honored with the construction of a church, and in 890, some relics believed to be his were respectfully relocated there. Another legend traces his journey to Gaul in a boat without oars, where he became the bishop of Marseilles. In this narrative, Lazarus’ martyrdom followed his successful conversion of many to Christianity, and he was ultimately buried in a cave. Centuries later, in 1146, his relics found a new resting place in the cathedral of Autun.

The veneration of Saint Lazarus dates back to the early Christian period. Etheria, a pilgrim around 390 A.D., documented the processions held at Lazarus’ tomb on the Saturday before Palm Sunday. In Western traditions, Passion Sunday was known as Dominica de Lazaro, acknowledging this connection. Saint Augustine also noted the reading of Lazarus’ resurrection story in African Palm Sunday services, highlighting its significance across various Christian communities.

Editorial credit: Pierre Laborde /

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