In today's times, Saints are venerated but they are hardly
household names. In fact, The Roman Martyrology which was last released by the Vatican on December
4, 2004 (1), lists some 6,500 saint names.
I investigated one Saint recently who
seemed to have a dual identity, one that I'm sure has confused a lot of Catholics. According to
Catholic tradition, there is only one Lazarus that has been canonized. That saint is Lazarus of
On December 17th, 72 AD, Lazarus of Bethany
, who was by this time
the Bishop of Marseille, was beheaded for his belief in Christ and converting many people to become
Christians. Lazarus, as you may know, was made known to us in the Book of John, Chapter 11. Jesus,
upon hearing the news of the death of his close friend, raised him from the dead after being expired
for 4 days.
After Lazarus' resurrection and six days before Passover, Jesus
was in Bethany visiting with Lazarus and his family hosted by Martha who catered the dinner. Many
Jews, by this time, were turning away and believing in Jesus because of the miracle of rising
Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus' life, as well as that of Jesus, were in danger as threats were being
made against them. Depending on which tradition you believe, Lazarus fled for Cyprus to protect
himself from the Jewish people that were threatening his life. It was there that he lived for the
next 30 years where he was killed and buried.
The dual identity I refer too
is that of San Lazaro. San Lazaro is a Cuban religious figure that is highly venerated by the Cuban
culture. He is also compared to another Cuban religious figure called Bablu' Aye' . In fact, when
mentioning Babalu' Aye' and San Lazaro in Cuban circles, you are generally referring to the same
person, albeit from two different cultures, Cuban and Afro-Cuban.
came across a document
explains in very great detail the history and confusion of Saint Lazarus, who the Roman Catholic
Church has canonized and that of San Lazaro who has never been canonized and is in fact the same
person referred to in the bible as Lazarus. Confusing I know but after reading this document, I had
a much clearer understanding on why there are two Saint Lazaro's and how the one culture may be
venerating the wrong Saint. It is also interesting to note that both Saints, Lazarus and Lazaro are
patron saints of the poor and sick.
To view the document, you will have to
be able to view it in PDF format as the site that hosts it, defaults to that document style. If you
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Roman Martyrology Book, 2004