St. Lazarus of Bethany

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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.

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