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26 December 2011


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Sanctuary of Saint Lazarus

Here, according to Christian tradition, the tomb of Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary, has been preserved.

- Convento di Terra Santa
- P.O.B. 186 - Betania
- 91001 Jerusalem

- Tel: +972. 2 279.92.91
- Fax: +972. 2 279.74.93

Horaire d’ouverture du Sanctuaire

8.00-12.00; 14.00-17.00

The Christian Tradition

"Bethany, a village two miles from Elia (Jerusalem) on the slopes of the Mount of Olives. Still today they show the place (the tomb) of Lazarus. This is the first information that is given to us by Eusebius of Caeserea at the beginning of the fourth century. At the end of the fourth century Jerome had translated this text and added: "today a church has been built there". The pilgrim Etheria in her "Itinerary" describes how the liturgy of Lazarus Saturday ( the paschal announcement) is celebrated: "Having reached Lazarus, a crowd so numerous assembles that not only the place itself, but the surrounding fields are full of people. Hymns and antiphons adapted for the day and the place are sung, and the readings are done in the same way. When it is time to finish, Easter is announced; that is, a priest climbs to an elevated place and reads the gospel passage that says: "Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany" The name "Lazarus", which means "Place of Lazarus" can be found also in the Arabic name of the site today, "El-Azarieh".

During the Crusader period, in 1138, a rich Benedictine monastery, filled with royal favor, was established there, near the tomb of Lazarus. Many of the ruins of this monastery are still visible. After the defeat of the Crusaders, the Muslims took possession of the Sanctuary and turned it into a mosque. In 1613 the Franciscans obtained the power to dig a corridor outside the tome; this is today’s entrance. In 1889, part of the ruins of the monastery and the church (called Martha’s House) was acquired; this made possible the archaeological excavations realized by Father Sylvestre Saller in 1949 and the construction of the modern church, of which A. Barluzzi was the architect, in 1952-53.

The excavations have shown that two churches were built, one after the other, close to the tomb of Lazarus. The first church had naves divided by columns and was paved with very fine mosaics, which are still preserved for the most part. The second church was paved with less fine mosaics and was built on pilasters; it remained in use, with some changes, until the end of the Crusader period.

The Site

Buildings near the Tomb of Lazarus:

- 1. The present-day church
- 2. The Tomb of Lazarus
- 3. 16th century mosque
- 4. Franciscan convent
- 5. Benedictine abbey

Biblical Text

The Resurrection of Lazarus

Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair; it was her brother Lazarus who was ill. So the sisters sent word to him, saying, "Master, the one you love is ill." When Jesus heard this he said, "This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it." Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was. Then after this he said to his disciples, "Let us go back to Judea." The disciples said to him, "Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back there?" Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours in a day? If one walks during the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks at night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him." He said this, and then told them, "Our friend Lazarus is asleep, but I am going to awaken him." So the disciples said to him, "Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved." But Jesus was talking about his death, while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep. So then Jesus said to them clearly, "Lazarus has died. And I am glad for you that I was not there, that you may believe. Let us go to him." So Thomas, called Didymus,said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go to die with him."

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away. And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home. Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. (But) even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you." Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise."Martha said to him, "I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day." Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" 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."

When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying, "The teacher is here and is asking for you." As soon as she heard this, she rose quickly and went to him. For Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still where Martha had met him. So when the Jews who were with her in the house comforting her saw Mary get up quickly and go out, they followed her, presuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Sir, come and see." And Jesus wept. So the Jews said, "See how he loved him." But some of them said, "Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?" So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it. Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, "Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days." Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?" So they took away the stone. And Jesus raised his eyes and said, "Father, I thank you for hearing me. 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." And when he had said this, he cried out in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" 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."

(John 11:1-44)


Guide: The Father caused his loving kindness for all men and his Plan of Life and Salvation to shine in his Son Jesus. Sure of his paternal care toward each one of us, we lay before him our prayers.

All: Lord, hear our prayer.

1. For the Church, that it may courageously announce its faith in Jesus, the Cause of our resurrection and our life. Let us pray.

2. For the civil authority, that they may recognize and defend the rights of the human person, and especially the right to life. Let us pray.

3. For consecrated persons, that they may follow the example of Lazarus, Martha and Mary and live in profound friendship with Jesus, their Master and their Lord. Let us pray.

4. For all disciples of Jesus, that they may attach themselves, like Martha and Mary, to the Person of Jesus and to his Mission for the glory of the Father and the vitality of the Church. Let us pray.

5. For our dead, that the Lord may purify them from all fault and allow them to rejoice eternally with Him. Let us pray.

6. For all of us, pilgrims in the Holy Land, that our walk in the footsteps of our Master lead us to fidelity, full of love for his example and his word. Let us pray.

Guide: Father, who thanks to Jesus gave us resurrection and life, infuse your Spirit of Life in us so that it may guide our steps toward the Kingdom of Light and Peace. By the Christ our Lord. All: Amen.