Daily Message: Saint Lazarus

Raising of St. Lazarus

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
Christ is in our midst! He was and is and ever shall be. Ο Χριστός έν τώ μέσω ημών. Και ήν και έστι και έσται.


O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, faint-heartedness, lust of power, and idle talk (prostration).

But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love to Thy servant (prostration).

Yes, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brother, for Thou art Blessed from all ages to all ages. Amen (prostration).


On April 7th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates the feast of Saint Lazarus the Friend of Christ and First Bishop Of Kition, Cyprus.

+By the holy intercessions of Your Holy Disciples, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.


The Feast of Saint Lazarus is commemorated always on Saturday before Palm Sunday.

Apolytikion [Dismissal] Hymn. First Tone

In Confirming the common Resurrection, O Christ God, Thou did raise up Lazarus from the dead before Thy Passion. Wherefore, we also, like the children, bearing the symbols of victory, cry to Thee, the Vanquisher of death: Hosanna in the highest; Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord.

Kontakion. Second Tone

To those on the earth, the joy of all, Christ God, the Truth, the Light and the Life, the Resurrection of the world, in His goodness has now appeared and is become the true Archetype of the Resurrection of all, bestowing divine forgiveness on all men.

THE DEATH OF LAZARUS [St. John 11: 1-44; 12:10-11; Acts 11:19]

"Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. Therefore the sister sent to Him, saying 'Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick'. When Jesus heard that, He said, 'This sickness is not unto death, but 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 sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. Then after this He said to the disciples, 'Let us go to Judea again.' The disciples said to Him, 'Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?' Jesus answered, 'Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him'. These things He said, and after that He said to them, 'Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up'. Then His disciples said, 'Lord, if he sleeps he will get well'. However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus said to them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him. Then Thomas, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, 'Let us also go, that we may die with Him'.


So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles away. And many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to comfort them, concerning their brother. Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. Then 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 God, God will give You.' Jesus said to her, 'I am the Resurrection and the Life, he who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" She said to Him, 'Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.'


And when she had said these things, she went her way and secretly called Mary her sister, saying, 'The Teacher has come and is calling you.' As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came to Him. Now Jesus had not yet come into the town, but was in the place where Martha met Him. Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and comforting her, when they saw that Mary rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, 'She is going to the tomb to weep there.' Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, 'Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.' Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping. He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. And He said, 'Where have you laid him?' They said to Him, 'Lord, come and see'. Then the Jews said, 'See how He loved him!' And some of them said, 'Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?'


Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, 'Take away the stone'. Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, 'Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.' Jesus said to her, 'Did I not say to you that if you believe you would see the glory of God?' Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, 'Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.' Now when He said these things, He cried with a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come forth!' And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, 'Loose him, and let him go'.


Then a great many of the Jews knew that He was there, and they came, not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. But the chief priests took counsel that they might also put Lazarus to death, because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.


Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only.

Saint Lazarus left Bethany, and lived on the island of Cyprus, and who eventually became a Bishop of Kitiion, which is now called Larnaca. The Ever-Virgin Mary the Theotokos visited Saint Lazarus while he was on the island on Cyprus.

"Larnaca, ancient Kition, is historically connected with three important personalities of the ancient world: the Stoic philosopher Zeno (who was born here), the Athenian general Kimon (who died here while fighting against the Persians for the freedom of Cyprus), and Saint Lazarus, the friend of Christ, who, being persecuted, left Judea and came to Cyprus where he lived the rest of his life as the first bishop of Kition. The coming of Saint Lazarus to Kition is indicated by relative local traditions and, chiefly, by the ancient and magnificent Byzantine church which is built over his tomb. This church, is the most important monument of the town and, at the same time, one of the most important pilgrimages in Cyprus.

The city of Larnaka in Cyprus was privileged to become Lazarus's native town, a second Bethany. Here he was met by the holy Apostle Paul and Barnabas on their missionary journey to Cyprus and according to tradition, he was ordained by them as the first Bishop of Kition. That is why all the episcopal thrones in the churches of Laranaka bear the holy icon of Saint Lazarus instead of that of Christ, as it is the custom in the Orthodox Church. Here he lived thirty or more years, and here he was buried for the second and last time. On his tomb Leo VI the Wise, Emperor of Byzantium, erected, 1100 years ago, the magnificent church, in Byzantine style, we see today.

Saint Lazarus' stay in Larnaca is connected with various traditions. According to one of these, during the thirty years he lived after his resurrection, he never smiled except on one occasion, when he saw someone stealing a pot, when he smilingly said: "the clay steals the clay." He was worried at the sight of the unredeemed souls he had seen during his four day stay in Hades (the Redeeming Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross has not yet taken place nor had his Resurrection, which saved man from sin and eternal condemnation).

It is worthwhile to mention also another tradition, about our Lady's and Ever-Virgin Mary coming to Cyprus, to visit Saint Lazarus. According to this tradition, Lazarus was very grieved because he could no longer see the Mother of our Lord his friend; for this reason he sent a ship to the Holy Land, to bring Her as well as Saint John the Apostle and other disciples, to Cyprus. But while the ship with our Lady and Her companions was sailing towards Kition, a great storm in the sea carried them far away, in the Aegean Sea, on the shores of Mt. Athos, in Greece. From there, our Lady, after converting the idolaters into Christianity and seeking Her Son's blessings and protection for all those who, in the future, were to "fight the good fight of faith" (as monks and ascetics) on the mountain, She sailed back to Cyprus. Finally, she arrived at Kition where she met St. Lazarus, to whom she brought, as a present, a bishop's pallium, woven in her own hands. Having blessed the local church of Kition, she returned to the Holy Land.

The Church of Saint Lazarus in Larnaca has been known to the Orthodox Christians since the old times; until the early years of this century it was considered an indispensable supplement to the pilgrimage of the Holy Land.

Besides this, many illnesses were healed and other miracles were performed at Larnaca owing to the Saint's grace, as Pietro Della Valle, a Roman nobleman and traveler who visited Larnaca in 1614-1626 informs us: When he had expressed his doubts concerning Saint Lazarus' coming to Cyprus, he was given the answer that "this truth is proved by the miracles which the Saint works in his - church daily" (Exerpta Cypria). Its importance, as a great pilgrimage, has been strengthened after the discovery of part of the sacred relics of the Saint in a marble sarcophagus under the Holy Altar (This occurred on the 2nd of November 1972, during renovation works in the church).

As it is known, the holy relics of the Saint were first discovered in 890 A.D. in his tomb in the small church that existed at that time. These were found in a marble sarcophagus on which were inscribed the following: "Lazarus, the foundry dead and friend of Christ". The then Emperor of Byzantium, Leo VI the Wise, according to the prevailing custom, carried the holy relics to Constantinople, the capital of the empire, and in exchange, he sent money and technicians to build the church we see today. We cannot admit that the people of Kition gave all the sacred relics without keeping even small part for their own town.

On the east side of the marble sarcophagus which exists today beneath the Holy Altar, in which the few remains of the holy relics were found, one can see the inscription in Greek capital letters, of the word "ΦΙΛΟΥ" that is "Friend" in genitive case.

After the capture of Constantinople by the Latin Franks in 1204, the Crusaders, besides the other treasures they carried to the West, they also carried the Saint's holy relics to Marseilles, from where, later on, they disappeared and up to the present day they have not been traced. {source: Father Demetrios Serfes]

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George