Friendship was always an important and necessary aspect of Eugene’s life. It is thus easy to understand his special relationship with Lazarus, the Gospel friend of Jesus. It was a relationship that he translated into everyday life.
Tradition had it that Lazarus, Martha and Mary came to Provence, and that Lazarus was the first “Bishop of Marseilles” – a tradition that Eugene obviously held dear. It was important for him to have a church dedicated to St Lazarus in his city and he took steps to ensure this. (including getting his wealthy mother to contribute financially to the project).
The Municipal Council yesterday unanimously adopted the findings of the commission regarding the recognition of St.-Lazare parish. Now a matter of great importance has been concluded, in a short time and by mutual agreement; it was necessary that our great patron get a little involved from the heights of heaven where he is still the friend of his Divine Master, Our Lord.
Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 13 February 1838, EO XIX
So the sisters sent word to him, saying, “Master, the one you love is ill.” (John 11:3)
And Jesus wept.
So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.” (John 11:35-36)
Each year, the Diocese of Marseilles used to celebrate the Feast of the Resurrection of Lazarus” on March 30.