Saint Lazarus appears in one of the parables of Jesus. In the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 16, Lazarus, a poor man, and a leper, begs relief from a rich man, called in the Middle Ages Dives (the Latin word for ‘rich’). Dives refuses. Dives dies, and from hell begs God to send Lazarus to give him some relief. But God tells him there is an uncrossable chasm between him and Lazarus in heaven.
Lepers were considered unclean, and so the story teaches us that God will give justice in the next world to those despised in the present. Likewise, rich people were thought of as blessed in the present life. Jesus teaches that they will be cursed in the next unless they show mercy.
Saint Lazarus’s feast day is June 21. He is patron saint of the poor, of lepers and of the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus in Jerusalem. He was widely venerated in the Middle Ages by the poor, whose lives were often short and miserable. Like Lazarus, they hoped for justice and happiness with God in heaven.