Cyprus Passion

Who was Saint Lazarus

Saint Lazarus was known by various names such as Saint Lazarus, Lazarus of Bethany and Lazarus of the four days. Lazarus’ name actually means ‘God is my help’ or ‘God is my helper’.

Lazarus lived in Bethany with his two sisters Martha and Maria, whom both had often hosted Jesus in their home.

He was a friend of Jesus but also one of Jesus’ first disciples. He later on went to be the first Bishop of Kition in Cyprus.

The Story of Lazarus as Greek Orthodox know it

One day Jesus received a message from Lazarus’ sisters that he had fallen ill.  When Jesus heard of this he responded with ‘This disease is to show the glory of God’. So Jesus set out to visit his friend but he was not in any hurry apparently as he left 2 days after he heard the news of his friend.  

It was dangerous for Jesus to go back to Judea, but he said to his disciples ‘Our friend Lazarus fell asleep and I have to go wake him up’. So, he set out to do just that.

Upon arrival they tell him that Lazarus has been dead for 4 days already. They took Jesus to his friend’s tomb and there they removed the stone which was closing off the entrance to the cave. Jesus called out to his friend ‘Lazarus, come out’, and out he came.

The lost tomb of Lazarus

Tradition says that Lazarus’ tomb was lost during the Arab rule in 649. But in 890 a tomb with inscription ‘Lazarus, four days dead, friend of Christ’ was found in Larnaca. Once this tomb was found the emperor of that time of Byzantium had the remains moved to Constantinople. We are told that the relics were later looted and re-brought back to Larnaca. The emperor then had the Church built over the tomb.

Lazarus in Cyprus

As to how Lazarus ended up in Cyprus, well, it is believed that he came to Cyprus after being resurrected by Jesus. Lazarus was actually ordained as Bishop of Kition by Apostles Barnabas and Paul and he lived in Larnaca for 30years.

If you visit the church of Saint Lazarus, you will find that there are stairs to your right at the side entrance. These stairs take you down under the main level of the church where you will find the tomb of Saint Lazarus. It is right under the church sanctuary/alter.

Saint Lazarus is celebrated every year just 8 days before the Greek Orthodox Easter. We  honour him by having a  procession, the icon inside the church of Saint Lazarus is take out and carried around the Church courtyard and streets of Larnaca.

If you go to the church during the night, you will see the church illuminated all around with beautiful lights. There are also cafes, restaurants just opposite the streets where you can have coffee or eat breakfast, lunch or dinner. During the day you can even visit the shops and do some shopping for clothes, shoes, jewelry or even souvenirs.

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