St. Martha Tattoo

Here is an example of a spiritual tattoo that took it’s slow time emerging. It is one of my favorite styles of tattooing. To connect ones spiritual belief system to a tattoo image.
You can see the step by step process to achieve the final work. I will add in the healed image later!

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Biblical references
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus visits the home of two sisters named Mary and Martha. The two sisters are contrasted: Martha was “cumbered about many things” while Jesus was their guest, while Mary had chosen “the better part”, that of listening to the master’s discourse.[3] The name of their village is not recorded, nor any mention of whether Jesus was near Jerusalem:

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
In the Gospel of John, Martha and Mary appear in connection with two incidents: the raising from the dead of their brother Lazarus (John 11) and the anointing of Jesus in Bethany (John 12:3).

In the account of the raising of Lazarus, Jesus meets with the sisters in turn: Martha followed by Mary. Martha goes immediately to meet Jesus as he arrives, while Mary waits until she is called. As one commentator notes, “Martha, the more aggressive sister, went to meet Jesus, while quiet and contemplative Mary stayed home. This portrayal of the sisters agrees with that found in Luke 10:38-42.”[4] In speaking with Jesus, both sisters lament that he did not arrive in time to prevent their brother’s death: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21,32). But where Jesus’ response to Mary is more emotional, his response to Martha is one of teaching calling her to hope and faith:

When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. “Lord”, Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
“Yes, Lord”, she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”

As the narrative continues, Martha calls her sister Mary to see Jesus. Jesus has Mary bring him to Lazarus’ tomb where he commands the stone to be removed from its entrance. Martha here objects, “But, Lord, by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days”, to which Jesus replies, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:39-40). They then take away the stone and Jesus prays and calls Lazarus forth alive from the tomb.

Martha appears again in John 12:1-8, where she serves at a meal held in Jesus’ honor at which her brother is also a guest. The narrator only mentions that the meal takes place in Bethany, while the apparently parallel accounts in the Gospels of Matthew (Matthew 26:6-13) and Mark (Mark 14:3-9) specify that it takes place at the home of one Simon the Leper. As the Catholic Encyclopedia notes, “We are surely justified in arguing that, since Matthew and Mark place the scene in the house of Simon, St. John must be understood to say the same; it remains to be proved that Martha could not ‘serve’ in Simon’s house.”[2] It is at this meal that a woman (Martha’s sister Mary, according to John) anoints Jesus with expensive perfume.

Martha from the Isabella Breviary, 1497
In medieval Western Christianity, Martha’s sister Mary was often equated with Mary Magdalene. This identification led to additional information being attributed to Martha as well:

Mary, Martha, and Lazarus are represented by St. John as living at Bethania, but St. Luke would seem to imply that they were, at least at one time, living in Galilee; he does not mention the name of the town, but it may have been Magdala, and we should thus, supposing Mary of Bethania and Mary Magdalene to be the same person, understand the appellative “Magdalene”. The words of St. John (11:1) seem to imply a change of residence for the family. It is possible, too, that St. Luke has displaced the incident referred to in Chapter 10. The likeness between the pictures of Martha presented by Luke and John is very remarkable. The familiar intercourse between the Saviour of the world and the humble family which St. Luke depicts is dwelt on by St. John when he tells us that “Jesus loved Martha, and her sister Mary, and Lazarus” (11:5). Again the picture of Martha’s anxiety accords with the picture of her who was “busy about much serving” (Luke 10:40); so also in John 12:2: “They made him a supper there: and Martha served.” But St. John has given us a glimpse of the other and deeper side of her character when he depicts her growing faith in Christ’s Divinity (11:20-27), a faith which was the occasion of the words: “I am the resurrection and the life.” The Evangelist has beautifully indicated the change that came over Martha after that interview: “When she had said these things, she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying: The Master is come, and calleth for thee.”[2]
Eastern Orthodox tradition

Christ with Martha and Maria, by Henryk Siemiradzki, 1886
In Orthodox Church tradition, though not specifically named as such in the gospels, Martha and Mary were among the Myrrh-bearing Women. These faithful followers of Jesus stood at Golgotha during the Crucifixion of Jesus and later came to his tomb early on the morning following Sabbath with myrrh (expensive oil), according to the Jewish tradition, to anoint their Lord’s body. The Myrrhbearers became the first witnesses to the Resurrection of Jesus, finding the empty tomb and hearing the joyful news from an angel.[5]

Orthodox tradition also relates that Martha’s brother Lazarus was cast out of Jerusalem in the persecution against the Jerusalem Church following the martyrdom of St. Stephen. His sister Martha fled Judea with him, assisting him in the proclaiming of the Gospel in various lands.[6] While Mary Magdalene remained with John the Apostle and assisted him with the Church of Jerusalem. The three later came to Cyprus, where Lazarus became the first Bishop of Kittim (modern Larnaca).[7] All three died in Cyprus.

Veneration
Martha is venerated as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox churches, and commemorated by the Lutheran Church and the Anglican Communion. Through time, as the cult of Martha developed, the images of maturity, strength, common sense, and concern for others predominated.[8]

Feast days
The Latin Church celebrates her feast day on July 29 and commemorates her sister Mary of Bethany and her brother Lazarus of Bethany on the same day.[9] The feast of Martha, classified as a “Semi-Double” in the Tridentine Calendar, became a “Simple” in the General Roman Calendar of Pope Pius XII, a “Third-Class Feast” in the General Roman Calendar of 1960, and a “Memorial” in the present General Roman Calendar.

The Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Rite Eastern Catholic Churches commemorate Martha and her sister Mary on June 4. They also commemorate them collectively among the Myrrh-bearing Women on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers (the Third Sunday of Pascha—i.e., the second Sunday after Easter Sunday). Martha also figures in the commemorations of Lazarus Saturday (the day before Palm Sunday).

Martha is commemorated on July 29 in the Calendar of Saints of the Lutheran Church (together with her siblings Mary and Lazarus) and in the Calendar of saints of the Episcopal Church and the Church of England (together with her sister Mary).

St Martha and the dragon

One of the symbols of St Martha, whose feast day it is today, is the aspergillum. The aspergillum (sometimes called the aspergilium or aspergil) is used to sprinkle holy water. Aspergillum comes from the Latin verb aspergere ‘to sprinkle’. It’s usually either a brush that is dipped in holy water and shaken, or a perforated ball at the end of a short handle. Some aspergillum have sponges or internal reservoirs that dispense holy water when shaken, while others need to be dipped in the holy water bucket or aspersorium. This is held in the dragons claw The Golden Legend, a medieval collection of hagiographies by Jacobus de Voragine, records that after Jesus’ death around AD 48, St Martha left Judea and went to Provence with her sister Mary and her brother Lazarus, settling in Avignon.

Some time later, St Martha went to Tarascon where a monster, the Tarasque, constantly threatened the population. According to the Golden Legend, the monster was a dragon, half beast and half fish, greater than an ox, longer than a horse, with teeth as sharp as a sword, and horned on either side, with a head like a lion and a tail like a serpent. The dragon lived in a wood between Arles and Avignon. St Martha, holding a cross in her hand, sprinkled the dragon with holy water, then, placing her sash around its neck, she led the tamed dragon through the village. St Martha spent the rest of her days living in Tarascon, in prayer and fasting, until her death.

The aspergillum with which St Martha inflicted holy water on the dragon is just one of the symbols she is associated with. The aspersorium, the dragon itself, a broom, ladle, keys, and a girdle, are often used in representations of St Martha.

St Martha, pray for us.

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