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Saint Lazarus

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Saint Lazarus depicted as suffering from hunger and leprosy and attended to by helpful dogs.
Saint Lazarus depicted as suffering from hunger and leprosy and attended to by helpful dogs.

Saint Lazarus is called upon to help victims of stroke, AIDS, those who are in comas, and those who suffer from other long-term, chronic health issues. Lazarus is the patron saint for those who suffer from leprosy. His Feast Day is December 17th.

Saint Lazarus is actually a character taken from a parable told by Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. In that story, Lazarus is a poor, homeless beggar suffering from leprosy. Mercy is shown to the man by dogs who come to him and lick his wounds while he sits outside of a wealthy man's gate. The wealthy man, whom tradition later named Dives, never gives Lazarus a bite of food, although he dines extravagantly himself every evening. Dives and Lazarus both die on the same day. As a virtuous man, Lazarus goes to his reward in Heaven and rests in the bosom of Abraham for all eternity. Due to his stinginess and unkindness, Dives is sentenced by God to an eternity of punishment in a lake of fire. Looking up, he sees Lazarus above him, and begs Lazarus for a drop of water to drink, but Lazarus cannot help him. Dives then pleads for Lazarus to be sent back to Earth to warn his five narcissistic and greedy brothers about the punishments that await those who are not kind to the poor, but, it is said, men as hard-hearted as they would not heed a call to charity, even from one who rose from the grave, and so there the matter ends.

In his iconography, Lazarus is depicted as a thin man, often in few clothes, with sores of leprosy on his body. The dogs mentioned in Christ's parable are present, licking Lazarus' wounds in an attempt to help him heal.

In the African Diasporic religion of Cuban Santeria or Lukumi, Saint Lazarus is associated with the orisha Babalu Aye; in this guise he is seen as an especially benevolent spirit for those who suffer with long-term illnesses like AIDS.

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