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The Catholic Defender: Saints Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus


Following the death of Jesus, Joseph obtained Jesus' body from Pilate, wrapped it in fine linen and buried it. For these reasons, Joseph is considered the patron saint of funeral directors and pallbearers.


For instance, after Joseph asked Pilate for the body of the Christ and prepared the body with Nicodemus' help, Christ's body was delivered to a new tomb that Joseph had built for himself.


Joseph of Arimathea was a wealthy Jewish man who buried the body of Jesus Christ after the Crucifixion.


After Jesus' crucifixion, Nicodemus assists Joseph of Arimathea in laying Jesus' body in a nearby tomb (John 19:39–42). He brings along a mixture of myrrh and aloes to anoint him for the entombment.


Nicodemus became a saint because he stood up and defended Jesus when he was accused before the Jewish authorities (Jn 7: 45-51) and also because he helped Joseph Arimathea prepare Christ's body for burial after his crucifixion.


Joseph had a faith in Jesus and was considered a disciple. This happened despite his being a member of the Sanhedrin, who were, as a group, bitterly opposed to Christ. However, Joseph held to his belief in Jesus and had a faith in Him despite his surroundings.


But now, though Joseph of Arimathea had intirely devoted himself to the sect of the Pharisees, yet was he not addicted to the vices which too evidently appeared among them, especially hypocrisy; for he was really just in all his dealings, pious without ostentation, and very charitable in private: insomuch that he ...


The actions of these two influential Jewish leaders give insight into the charismatic power of Jesus and his teachings—and the risks that could be involved in following him.


Joseph was a respected, wealthy civic leader who had become a disciple of Jesus. Following the death of Jesus, Joseph obtained Jesus’ body from Pilate, wrapped it in fine linen and buried it. For these reasons, Joseph is considered the patron saint of funeral directors and pallbearers. More important is the courage Joseph showed in asking Pilate for Jesus’ body. Jesus was a condemned criminal who had been publicly executed. According to some legends, Joseph was punished and imprisoned for such a bold act.


Nicodemus was a Pharisee and, like Joseph, an important first-century Jew. We know from John’s Gospel that Nicodemus went to Jesus at night—secretly—to better understand his teachings about the kingdom. Later, he spoke up for Jesus at the time of his arrest and assisted in Jesus’ burial. We know little else about Nicodemus.


Celebrating these two contemporaries of Jesus who played significant roles in Jesus’ life, reminds us of the humanity of Jesus and how he related to his fellow men and women. His gentleness to these two and his acceptance of their help remind us that he treats us in the same gentle way.

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