31 July 2007
St. Joseph of Arimathea
The Noble Joseph
having taken your Most Pure Body down from the Cross,
wrapped it in a clean shroud
and anointed it with fragrant spices
and laid it in a new tomb. But on the third day You arose, O Lord,
granting the world great mercy.
St. Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin (the rulers of the Jews during the time of Christ). He was a secret believer who came to Jesus by night with Nicodemus (St. John 3). The two of them removed Christ's body from the Cross and laid it in Joseph's new tomb (Matt. 27:57; John 19:38). For his compassion for the Lord, the Jews bound and imprisoned him. The resurrected Christ appeared to him in his captivity to confirm and encourage his faith. The Jews eventually released Joseph, but banished him from the province of Judea. St. Joseph traveled to the extreme end of the Roman Empire to preach the Gospel. He spent some time with Apostle Philip in Europe, then he went to Britain, where, upon setting foot at the site of the now-ruined Glastonbury Abbey the staff he leaned on took root and began to bloom. This famous plant, known as the Christmas Thorn, survives to this day. St. Joseph, an exile forsaken by his people, was the first to bring the message of Christianity to the shores of Britain, beginning the tradition of faith there that lasted for centuries.