Who was St. Martha?
Martha was the sister of Mary and Lazarus. Martha lived with her family in a place called Bethany. Bethany is identified with the modern day Palestinian village of al-Eizariya which is located on the south eastern slope of the Mount of Olives, two miles from Jerusalem. Jesus is said to have stayed with the family at Bethany after his entry into Jerusalem. It was from also Bethany that Jesus parted from his disciples. Martha served Jesus and showed him great hospitality whist he was visiting her house. Her brother, Lazarus, fell ill and Martha sent word to Jesus.
When Jesus arrived Lazarus was already dead and been in the tomb for four days. Martha reproached Jesus but Jesus assured her that Lazarus would rise. Martha misunderstood his words and thought this referred to rising on Judgement Day. Jesus replied to Martha “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die”. Jesus then instructed that the stone was rolled away from the tomb and he called Lazarus to him. Lazarus walked out of the tomb, he had risen from the dead – the miracle of Lazarus. Martha follwed Jesus until the time of his crucifixion. It was then believed that Martha, Mary and Lazarus left Judea and went to France where she died in 84AD of natural causes making her a confessor Saint.
Saint Martha is represented in Christian Art in homely garments, with a ladle or skimmer in her hand, and a bunch of keys hanging from her girdle. Occasionally we see her with an asperge (a perforated container for sprinkling holy water) and holy water, and a dragon at her feet. This is because, according to the legend, she delivered the neighbourhood of Aix, in Provence, of a dragon that lay concealed on the banks of the Rhone.
Saint Martha is the patron of Domestic workers because she willingly served Jesus.
Her Feast Day is on July 29th.