Pope Francis approved two decrees this week instituting new memorials for Saints in the universal liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church. Saints Martha, Mary, and Lazarus will be celebrated on July 29, while Saint Gregory Narek will be on February 27, Saint John of Avila on May 10, and Saint Hildegard of Bingen on September 17.
I love that Martha, Mary and Lazarus will be remembered together in this single Memorial. The Pope’s decree noted 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.” The accounts narrated by Saint John of these three siblings are a powerful witness of faith and eternal life.
The other three saints are proclaimed doctors of the Church, renowned for their wisdom and writings which transcend the ages. The decree points that “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.” Their dates will be optional memorials.
While I gave tours of Saint Peter Basilica in Rome, I always pointed to the tourists and pilgrims that the Basilica was a living monument and not a static museum. Monuments and shrines are moved, new artwork is added, the faithful come in faith to worship. Additions to the calendar such as these are reminders that the Church too is not static. Jesus is forever renewing Her and as the man sitting on the throne in the Book of Revelation proclaims, “Behold, I make all things new.”