On Tuesday, February 2, Pope Francis broke the good news that a new memorial date had been added to the General Roman Calendar. Starting this year, the feast day of Saints Mary, Martha, and Lazarus will be observed every July 29th.
In a February 2 decree signed by Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Divine Worship congregation, Pope Francis explained why he decided to include the three sibling saints in the General Roman Calendar. (Read: 3 Royal Women Who Became Saints)
“[They deserve the memorial] considering the important evangelical witness they offered in welcoming the Lord Jesus into their home, in listening to him attentively, in believing that he is the resurrection and the life,” the Pope wrote.
The General Roman Calendar is the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church. It denotes the dates of the holy days and the annual feast days of saints.
Martha, Mary, Lazarus
Saints Martha, Mary, and Lazarus were three siblings who resided in the town of Bethany, just outside of Jerusalem. Having lived during the time of Jesus Christ, they have personally experienced the goodness of the Son of God.
“In the household of Bethany, the Lord Jesus experienced the family spirit and friendship of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus,” Pope Francis wrote. (Read: 3 Life Lessons We Can Learn From Fr. Joseph Fidel Roura’s Vlogs)
“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.” For this reason, the Gospel of John states that Jesus loved them.
The July 29 feast day of Saints Martha, Mary, and Lazarus will now appear in the General Roman Calendar as a memorial. This event will be an obligatory one— meaning it must be observed at all costs.
Memorial of Saints
In a separate decree also published on February 2, Pope Francis added three optional memorials in the General Roman Calendar. These are for St. Hildegard of Bingen (September 17), St. Gregory of Narek (February 27), and St. John of Ávila (May 10)— all three of whom are recognized Doctors of the Church.
“The combination of holiness with knowledge in the experience of the mystery of Jesus Christ is inextricably linked to the mystery of the Church,” the Congregation for Divine Worship wrote in the decree. (Read: Vatican Rolls Out New Guidelines for Priests on Ash Wednesday)
“Indeed, the wisdom that characterizes these men and women is not solely theirs, since by becoming disciples of divine Wisdom they have themselves become teachers of wisdom for the entire ecclesial community. It is in this light that the holy ‘Doctors’ are inscribed in the General Roman Calendar,” the congregation wrote.
Doctor of the Church is a title given to some saints whose works in research, study, or writing, have made a great contribution to theology or doctrine. As of writing, there are 36 Doctors of the Church worldwide.