25 March: The Good Thief, St. Dismas

Though we are deep into Lent, today we celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation.

However, did you know that today is the feast day of the “Good Thief“, known by tradition as St. Dismas?

I have sometimes wondered about the choice of this day, of all days, for St. Dismas.  Could it be that the reflection of the Church’s holy shepherds led them to imagine that Our Lady, standing on Calvary at the foot of the Cross, was not in her charity praying, interceding also for the two men being crucified with her dying Son?  Just a thought.

Here is his entry from the Martyrologium Romanum:

2. Commemoratio sancti latronis, qui, in cruce Christum confessus, ab eo meruit audire: “Hodie mecum eris in paradiso”.

Can you imagine, even through that kind of suffering, to hear those words?

“Today you will be with me in paradise.”

Think: Last Rites.

Our Lord gave to us in Holy Church the ordinary means for our salvation.

We have the sacraments and the Church’s teaching on faith and morals.

No matter what sort of sins we have committed, Our Lord is ready for us with unbounded mercy.

Holy Church is the refuge of sinners and it is precisely for the likes of us that He came to live and to die.

He died between two thieves for company, after all.

Let us show gratitude to the Lord for all His good gifts by using the sacraments well, by hearing and accepting the Church’s teachings, and by upright lives full of good works.

25 March: The Good Thief, St. Dismas
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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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11 Responses to 25 March: The Good Thief, St. Dismas

  1. disco says:

    I heard somewhere that it was a Jewish belief that a righteous man would die on the same day of the year as his conception. Since the good thief and our lord died on the cross on the same day it would make sense that his heavenly birthday would be the same date of the annunciation.

  2. LarryW2LJ says:

    Can you imagine, even through that kind of suffering, to hear those words?

    “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

    The flip side of that thought occurred to me – how many times that Jesus was heartened by the faith of others – the Roman Centurion with the sick servant, the woman who touched his cloak, and many other cases, throughout the Gospels. To hear one more instance of this, coming from a stranger and a criminal, no less – professions of faith and repentance, during Jesus’ hours of agony. It must have been a consolation to Him.

  3. Lyons says:

    Isn’t March 25th when Jesus (and therefore Dismas) died?


    Makes perfect sense for this to be his feast day.

  4. Darren says:

    @Lyons says: Isn’t March 25th when Jesus (and therefore Dismas) died?

    I have also read that March 25 is the date traditionally believed to be the date of the Crucifixion. This is also the date that Tolkien gives in The Lord of the Rings as the day the one ring was destroyed in Mount Doom.

  5. Angie Mcs says:

    I often hope, as Larry W2LJ said, that Dismas’ words to the third man being crucified, were some comfort to Our Lord during those hours of agony. And show great hope for humanity, that such a man as Dismas, at his most vulnerable and in greatest pain, could recognize who was next to him, as he reached out to Jesus.

  6. KylieP says:

    A feast day of two yeses:
    Yes, I am the handmaid of the Lord
    Yes, I will repent.
    Awesome!! Thank you for sharing, Father! God bless you always!

  7. Legisperitus says:

    Lord, let us always love and seek the Sacraments.

  8. I love St. Dismas. He sorta proves that there is hope for all of us – that humility can get us to heaven in spite of the worst transgressions.

    St. Dismas is a great person to beseech when you lock yourself out of your car or house. He likes to help with that kind of stuff.

  9. David Zampino says:

    Fr. Z,

    Thanks for the info on St. Dismas. Our parish has a St. Dismas ministry which reaches out to the incarcerated and their families.


    Actually, since in the Middle-Earth Calendar, New Year is the winter solstice, and Mid-Year Day is the summer solstice, the connection between the Fall of Sauron and the Annunciation doesn’t fit.

    I know that a certain Catholic “literary biographer” has written and spoken on this point, but I find his “scholarship” shoddy at best. (And Tolkien, who despised allegorical interpretation, would most likely be spinning in his grave!)

  10. ReginaMarie says:

    Tina in Ashburn: I agree!
    Interestingly, Dismas is from the Greek word meaning “sunset” or “death.”

    There is a beautiful hymn about St. Dismas in the Eastern Catholic Churches which says, “The Wise Thief didst Thou make worthy of Paradise, in a single moment, O Lord. By the wood of Thy Cross illumine me as well, and save me.”

  11. Allan S. says:

    I moved into the first ever North American parish of St. Dismas, which externally is an extraordinary church built next door to one of the largest, most infamous federal penitentiaries. Both the church and the penitentiary closed their doors for good this past fall, after more than a century of operations, so I only attended Mass there a few times after we bought our house.

    Unfortunately, the inside was one of the worst wreckovations ever, and you never saw a better example of “lex orandi, lex credendi” – kids running amok, laity helping themselves to consecrated hosts from the tabernacle stuffed off to the side and NO CONFESSIONALS! There was nothing remotely Catholic about it and as awful as this sounds, I truly believe souls are better for it. Most have found there way to the Cathedral which has pretty solid preaching, good men as priests, lots of confession and adoration, two TLMs a month and so on. Night and day.

    It would be an amazing place for the FSSP or some other group to take over, but the inside would need a total restoration (furnishings and theology)!

    St. Dismas overlooking the prison – beautiful, really.