Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Kissing Lazarus


There's a story untold in the Bible how the returned to life Lazarus went on to be the first Bishop of Larnaka and in the Church of St. Lazarus in Larnaka you can see, in a crypt beneath the high altar, the stone coffin in which he lay.

I went down into the crypt,  reminded  of both the Cave of the Nativity in Bethlehem and the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.  I've kissed the rock in both places! But there was to be no kissing Lazarus, yet!

The coffin is empty! He has not yet been raised from the dead a second time, in spite of the empty tomb! His body was nicked by the high principled Crusaders who took it off to Marsailles! There is no need to rely on a Homeopathic Theory of relics - there's a holy place where the relic used to be - to get close and cuddly with Lazarus. They conveniently left a portion of his skull behind.

It is kept, upstairs in the church, in a golden relique in the church!

Kneeling in the near darkness of the crypt tomb gave a profound experience my own mortality. I like the idea that my brother Lazarus will rest in the sleep of death and by God's grace will be raised up on the last day (whatever that means!?)

Returning to the main church,  I found my way to the relique.  The small fragment of St. Lazarus' skull is covered in  perspex,   but I kissed it none-the-less. And that brought me close! To the Bible story, the reality of death,  the hope of resurrection and the thousands of Christian folk who have come to honour the saint over the millennia.

©Richard Woodham 2008

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