Let Us Honor the Holy Myrrhbearers
The women of Galilee who aided Jesus and the apostles are given special recognition this Sunday
But at daybreak on the first day of the week they took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb; but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. ―Luke 24:1–3
On the third Sunday of Easter each year, Byzantine Catholics give special honor to a certain group of saints: the Holy Myrrhbearers. The women of Galilee who had aided Jesus and the apostles are given special recognition on this day due to the care they demonstrated on the first Easter morning by going to the tomb of Christ with spices and oils, hoping to anoint his dead body.
By blending all four Gospels together, Mary Magdalene, Mary of Clopas, Joanna, Susanna, and Salome have traditionally been considered to make up this holy cluster of women (along with some other unnamed Galilean women as well).
After ministering to the needs of Jesus and the apostles for some time, these saintly women watched the events of Christ’s Crucifixion unfold, no doubt horrified. They then observed as Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus placed Jesus’ body into a tomb. It was too late in the day to anoint their Lord properly, so the women left to prepare some spices and oils and then rested for the Sabbath.
As soon as the Sabbath was over, these good women returned to the tomb of Christ with the burial spices and oils―and myrrh was a common burial ingredient. It was then that they saw some angels (or one angel, according to Matthew and Mark) and became the first to learn that Christ had risen from the dead. Amazed at the empty tomb and the words of the angels, these Holy Myrrhbearers went to share the extraordinary news. Because they were the first to tell the apostles about Jesus’ resurrection, some have called these good women “the apostles to the apostles.”
Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus are also given some notice on this myrrhbearing feast day for their contribution in giving Jesus as decent a burial as possible. Martha and Mary of Bethany are also typically recognized with the Holy Myrrhbearers.
Nine Days with the Holy Myrrhbearers
If you would like to understand these Holy Myrrhbearers a little better, read one passage below each day for nine days. Consider what each passage might mean to you. If desired, do some journaling and see how this generous group of people speaks to your heart.
- Luke 8:1–3
- Luke 23:49
- Luke 23:50–56
- Luke 24: 1–12
- Matthew 27:55–61
- Matthew 28:1–10
- Mark 15:40–47
- Mark 16:1–8
- John 19:25, 38–42