Jesus liked to stay at the house of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, his friends at Bethany, when he was in Judea. One of these visits has ever remained dear to Christian memory. On that occasion Martha, busily serving the Master, asked Him to persuade Mary to help her. Without in any way reproaching Martha, Jesus explained to her that certain souls, called by God, should choose a better part still — the primary duty of listening to Him and contemplating Him. This feast is celebrated today both in the Ordinary Form and Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.


According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of Sts. Felix, Simplicius, Faustinus & Beatrice. Pope Felix II was martyred in Tuscany, Italy, in the fourth century. The brothers Simplicius and Faustinus and their sister, Beatrice, gave their lives for Christ at Rome, A.D. 303.


St. Martha, Mary and Lazarus


St. Martha

Martha was active, enterprising, careful, and given to exterior things. Our Lord, Who loved her, says Saint John, does not, in the Gospel blame her for what she did for Him; He teaches her to place those things which directly regard God and eternity above exterior works, and even in active labors, whether of obligation or of superogation, to avoid anxiety, precipitation and undertaking too much. These things would be detrimental both to interior piety and the good works themselves. Hence these words of Jesus which concern all souls, and will profit them until the end of time: “One thing only is necessary.” Martha, like a wise and prudent virgin, profited by the Divine lesson; peace grew in her soul without lessening her zeal. Exiled from Judea, thrust on board ship and miraculously guided to Provence, she was until the end, a model of the active life, as Mary was of the contemplative. Tarascon was especially privileged to behold and admire her virtues. Saint Maximin, Bishop of Aix, a disciple of Our Lord, came to see and console her at the hour of death, and received her last farewell for her beloved sister Mary. Numerous confraternities and different religious congregations have risen up under the patronage of Saint Martha, especially those following the mixed life (First Century).


St. Lazarus

The account of Lazarus being raised from the dead by Jesus, led to his widespread veneration in Jerusalem, which was witnessed by the Spanish pilgrim Egeria in 390.


Nothing more is written about him in the New Testament. According to tradition however, the Jews of Jaffa placed Lazarus and his sisters in a leaky boat in which they somehow sailed safely to Cyprus. He said to have become a bishop on the island and died there peacefully 30 years later.


Another legend tells how he was placed in a boat which did not have oars or a rudder. Nevertheless, together with his sisters, he landed safely in Gaul. That story claims he was martyred under Domitian and buried in a cave under the Abbey church in Marseilles.


Tradition says Lazarus became a missionary to Gaul, the first bishop of Marseilles, France, and a martyr in the persecutions of Domitian.


The Order of Lazarists founded by St Vincent de Paul took its name from the church in Paris dedicated to Saint Lazare.


Chichester Cathedral has an 11th century sculpture depicting the Raising of Lazarus.



St. Mary of Bethany

The great and holy myrrh-bearer Mary of Bethany is one of the women disciples of Jesus. She and her sister Martha are celebrated as saints on their shared feast day of June 4. They are also commemerated on the Third Sunday of Pascha or Sunday of Myrrh-bearing Women. Martha and Mary were believers in Christ even before Jesus Christ raised their brother St. Lazarus (October 17) from the dead. After the Ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the murder of the holy Archdeacon Stephen a persecution against the Church of Jerusalem broke out, and Righteous Lazarus was cast out of Jerusalem. The holy sisters then assisted their brother in the proclaiming of the Gospel in various lands. They reposed in Cyprus, where their brother became the first Bishop of Kition after his resurrection from the dead. We do not know how they died.


Keeping the various Marys of the Bible straight can be a challenge. For centuries, St. Mary of Bethany was considered by many to be the same as Mary Magdalene. Deeper study and consideration have prompted most now to consider them to be two separate women.


Mary of Bethany was the sister of Martha and Lazarus of the town of Bethany, just a few miles away from Jerusalem. At some point, Jesus had developed a special friendship with these three siblings and had gone to their house for a visit. During the visit, Mary became engrossed in all Jesus had to say. She sat at his feet, listening attentively, apparently oblivious to her sister, Martha, who scurried about with serving duties. The frustrated Martha complained to Jesus that Mary was not being helpful. Profoundly, Jesus replied that it was Mary who had made the better choice — that spiritual matters have a much higher priority than household chores.


Later on, Mary’s brother Lazarus became deathly ill. Mary and her sister sent word to Jesus to let him know of Lazarus’s condition, hoping for a visit. Jesus did go to Bethany; however, he delayed the visit by two days, and by the time he arrived, Mary’s brother had been dead for four days.


When Mary saw Jesus, she sorrowfully spoke of her disappointment, claiming that if he had been there, Lazarus could have been saved. Jesus then stunned Mary and her sister by going to the dead body of Lazarus, praying fervently to God, and then commanding the deceased man to rise. Mary’s confidence in Jesus surely soared as she witnessed her brother return to the living — still wrapped in his burial cloths!


According to the Gospel of John, not long after Lazarus was raised from the dead, Jesus was again in Bethany. This time, Mary anointed Jesus’s feet with oil and then dried them with her hair. The Gospels of Matthew and Mark present similar stories, which many sources consider to be based on the same incident. However, the sinful woman in Luke’s seventh chapter who bathed Jesus’ feet with tears is considered to be a different person.



Patron Saint of:

Cooks; Butlers; Dietitians; Domestic Servants; Homemakers; Hotel-keepers; Housemaids; Housewives; Innkeepers; Laundry Workers; Maids; Manservants; Servants; Servers; Single Laywomen; Travellers.



Saint Martha, pray for us that we might serve Jesus better.

Help us to overcome our distractions and worries to listen to his words and be present to him this day. Amen.