By Devin Watkins
The Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments released two decrees, approved by Pope Francis, on Tuesday.
One inscribed the Memorial of Saints Martha, Mary, and Lazarus into the Roman Calendar on 29 July.
This means all liturgical books around the world will be updated with the prayers and texts proper to these three companions of Jesus.
Three-fold witness to Jesus
The decree says Pope Francis made the decision to add this liturgical memorial based on “the important evangelical witness they offered in welcoming the Lord Jesus into their home, in listening to Him attentively, and in believing that He is the resurrection and the life.”
“In the household of Bethany,” it reads, “the Lord Jesus experienced the family spirit and friendship of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, and for this reason the Gospel of John states that He loved them. Martha generously offered Him hospitality, Mary listened attentively to His words, and Lazarus promptly emerged from the tomb at the command of the One who humiliated death.”
Identity of Mary
Tuesday’s decree also makes note of the “traditional uncertainty in the Latin Church” over the identity of Mary.
It says recent studies have resolved the question, identifying her as the sister of Martha and Lazarus, “as attested by the current Roman Martyrology”.
Doctors of Church
In a separate decree, Pope Francis inscribed three Optional Memorials in the Roman Calendar for three Doctors of the Church.
- Saint Gregory of Narek, Abbot and Doctor of the Church, on 27 February;
- Saint John De Avila, Priest and Doctor of the Church, on 10 May;
- Saint Hildegard of Bingen, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, on 17 September.
Holiness and wisdom
The decree says “the combination of holiness with knowledge in the experience of the mystery of Jesus Christ is inextricably linked to the mystery of the Church.”
It adds that this link of holiness and wisdom is especially visible in those who have been given the title “Doctor of the Church”.
The decree states that these three Saints were added to the Roman Calendar because they each have something unique to offer the Church.
“The wisdom that characterizes these men and women is not solely theirs,” it reads, “since by becoming disciples of divine Wisdom they have themselves become teachers of wisdom for the entire ecclesial community.”