Wednesday 17 March 2021


Patron of funeral directors, morticians and undertakers, Joseph of Arimathea was fêted on this day according to the traditional Martyrologium Romanum but is now celebrated on 31 August along with his fellow secret disciple Nicodemus who helped prepare the body of Jesus for burial. Not much more is related about these wealthy (Joseph was appointed Nobilis Decurio, Minister of the Mines), covert followers in the Gospels who sought permission from Pontius Pilate to care for and prepare the corpse with spices that Nicodemus purchased after crucifixion and see to his entombment. The title refers to collective term given these two men and the Three Marys when they return to find the tomb empty. Further embellishment subsequently connects Joseph with the Arthurian cycle and the Matter of Britain, placing the saint among the first missionaries on the Isles (reportedly teaching the Cornish how to excavate tin) and of course guardian of the Holy Grail.