Sts. Joseph of Arimethea & Nicodemus

Today is the feast of Sts. Joseph of Arimethea and Nicodemus:

1. Hierosolymae, commemoratio sanctorum Ioseph de Arimathaea et Nicodemi, qui corpus Iesu a cruce depositum acceperunt, involverunt in sindone et posuerunt in monumento. Ioseph, nobilis decurio et discipulus Domini, regnum Dei expectabat; Nicodemus autem, ex Pharisaeis, princeps Iudaeorum, ad Iesum nocte venerat interrogans de missione eius atque coram pontificibus et Pharisaeis, qui volebant Iesum apprehendere, causam eius defendit. .. At Jerusalem, the commemoration of Saints Joseph of Arimethea and Nicodemus, who received the Body of Jesus once taken down from the Cross, wrapped it in a burial shroud and placed it in the tomb. Joseph, a noble decurion (member of the senate of a Roman colony) and disciple of the Lord was awating the kingdom of God; Nicodemus, on the other hand, of the Pharisees and a leader of the Jews, went to Jesus in the night asking Him about His mission and, in the presence of the priests and Pharisees who wanted to arrest Jesus, defended His case.


The Bishop of Hippo speaks about Nicodemus in one of his Tractates on the Gospel of John 11. He has a fascinating riff into Abraham, Isaac and Jacob:

6. This Nicodemus, who had come to Jesus by night, did not savor of this spirit and this life. Saith Jesus to him, "Except a man be born again, he shall not see the kingdom of God." And he, savoring of his own flesh, while as yet he savored not of the flesh of Christ in his mouth, saith, "How can a man be born a second time, when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?" This man knew but one birth, that from Adam and Eve; that which is from God and the Church he knew not yet: he knew only those parents that bring forth to death, knew not yet the parents that bring forth to life; he knew but the parents that bring forth successors, knew not yet the ever-living parents that bring forth those that shall abide.

Whilst there are two births, then, he understood only one. One is of the earth, the other of heaven; one of the flesh, the other of the Spirit; one of mortality, the other of eternity; one of male and female, the other of God and the Church. But these two are each single; there can be no repeating the one or the other. Rightly did Nicodemus understand the birth of the flesh; so understand thou also the birth of the Spirit, as Nicodemus understood the birth of the flesh. What did Nicodemus understand? "Can a man enter a second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?" Thus, whosoever shall tell thee to be spiritually born a second time, answer in the words of Nicodemus, "Can a man enter a second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?" I am already born of Adam, Adam cannot beget me a second time. I am already born of Christ, Christ cannot beget me again. As there is no repeating from the womb, so neither from baptism.

7. He that is born of the Catholic Church, is born, as it were, of Sarah, of the free woman; he that is born of heresy is, as it were, born of the bond woman, but of Abraham’s seed. Consider, beloved, how great a mystery. God testifies, saying, "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." Were there not other patriarchs? Before these, was there not holy Noah, who alone of the whole human race, with all his house, was worthy to be delivered from the flood,–he in whom, and in his sons, the Church was prefigured? Borne by wood, they escaped the flood. Then afterwards great men whom we know, whom Holy Scriptures commends, Moses faithful in all his house. And yet those three are named, just as if they alone deserved well of him: "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob: this is my name for ever." Sublime mystery! It is the Lord that is able to open both our mouth and your hearts, that we may speak as He has deigned to reveal, and that you may receive even as it is expedient for you.

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  1. Don Marco says:

    Splendid posting on Saints Joeph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. Here is my humble contribution:

    AUGUST 31
    1 Corinthians 1:1-9
    Psalm 144:2-3, 4-5, 6-7 (R. See1b)
    Proper Gospel: Mark 15:42-47

    Did you hear how Saint Paul addressed the Corinthians – and addressed us – today? “To those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours” (1 Cor 1:2). Each of us is called to become a saint together with the saints. In another place the Apostle says, “This is the will of God, your sanctification” (21 Th 4:3).
    We are, at every moment, surrounded by “so great a cloud of witnesses” (Heb 12:1) who encourage us by their example and support us by their prayers. This is why the Church, in her wisdom, invites us every day to open her Martyrology and to become familiar with those whose “intercession is our unfailing pledge of help” (Euch. Pr. III).
    Opening to the first entry for August 31st in the Roman Martyrology, we read:

    At Jerusalem, the commemoration of Saints Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, who received the body of Jesus taken down from the cross, wrapped it in a shroud and placed it in the sepulcher. Joseph, a noble official and disciple of the Lord, was seeking the Kingdom of God; Nicodemus, for his part, a member of the Pharisees and a ruler among the Jews, came to Jesus by night to inquire of his mission and defended him in the presence of the high priests and Pharisees who sought to arrest him.

    One also reads in the 2004 edition of the Roman Martyrology the following provision at Article 30:

    The Mass and also the Office of any Saint inscribed in the Roman Martyrology . . . may with just cause be celebrated on the day whereupon the name is inserted, when that day is a feria or when an optional memorial is permitted.

    We have just cause and good reason to celebrate Saints Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus today. The Gospels associate them with the Mother of God and those other saints so dear to us, who in sorrow and compassion stood by the Cross of Jesus and who, after His death, looked upon the Prince of Life’s wounded hands and feet and side. Some of the most poignant iconography of Our Lord depicts His removal from the cross and burial. We see the Body of Jesus carried in the winding sheet, the shroud of linen prepared by Joseph. We see the Blessed Virgin, Saint John, Mary Magdalene, and the other holy women. And with them we see two noble men with expressions of tenderness and grief: Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus.
    There is more written about Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus in the Gospels than there is about most of the Apostles. Meditating on the Gospel texts that speak of them we discover two men intimately bound to Our Lord, not only during His active life but also in the mysteries of His death and burial. We see two men who actively sought the Kingdom of God, two men who came to the Son because they were drawn to Him by the Father in the Holy Spirit.
    Read again the dialogue of Our Lord with Saint Nicodemus in Chapter 3 of Saint John’s Gospel. It is to Nicodemus that Jesus reveals the mystery of the Cross, saying: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (Jn 3:14). Again, it is to Nicodemus that He reveals the Father’s redeeming love, saying: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
    These inexhaustible sayings of Our Lord were first sown in the heart of Nicodemus in the course of that extraordinary secret conversation by night. Where did the Fourth Evangelist obtain knowledge of these sayings if not from Nicodemus himself? If we would penetrate these sayings and allow them to transform us, we do well to seek the intercession of the man to whom they were first addressed, Saint Nicodemus.
    Saint Joseph of Arimathea is named in all four Gospels. Saint Luke calls him “a good and just man” (Lk 23:50). Saint John tells us that he was “a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews” (Jn 19:38). How extraordinary then, that after the death of Jesus, Joseph should overcome his fear and become so bold as to ask Pilate “that he might take away the body of Jesus” (Jn 19:38). Saint John goes on to say that, “Pilate gave him leave. So he came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who had at first come to him by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. They took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews” (Jn 19:38-42).
    According to the Gospel accounts of the burial of Jesus, we are indebted to Saints Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus for those precious relics of the Passion of the Lord: the sacred shroud, and the face veil of Manoppello that Pope Benedict XVI will venerate tomorrow morning. It is fitting then that we should remember them today, asking through their intercession, that we may learn to contemplate the mysterious images of the Holy Face of Jesus imprinted on “shroud and napkin.”
    One cannot gaze upon the beauty, the majesty, the serenity, and the tenderness of the Face of Christ without being inwardly changed. We do become what we contemplate. “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” Saints Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, pray for us that, with eyes of faith and tears of compunction, we may gaze upon the Face of Christ!

  2. Don Marco says:


    O God, by whose grace
    Saint Joseph of Arimathea
    was emboldened to ask
    for the sacred Body of our Lord Jesus Christ,
    that together with Saint Nicodemus
    he might prepare it for burial and lay it in his own tomb,
    give us such an increase of faith and courage
    that we may not fear to bear reproach for the sake of Christ,
    but rather may serve Him with sincere devotion
    all the days of our life.
    Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
    who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
    God, forever and ever.

    (From the Votive Mass in Honour of the Holy Shroud)

    O God,
    who did leave us traces of your sufferings
    on the holy Shroud in which your sacred Body,
    taken from the cross, was wrapped by Joseph,
    mercifully grant that, by your death and burial,
    we may be brought to the glory of your resurrection.
    Who live and reign forever and ever.

  3. Don Marco: When it is convenient, the Latin for the Collect would be interesting. Thanks for posting what you did!

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