Sister of St. Mary Magdalene, St. Martha is honored by the Catholic Church on July 29th.
In his Gospel, St. John relates that Our Lord Jesus Christ “loved Martha, and her sister Mary, and Lazarus” (Jn. 11:5); that is why He preferred to go to their house in Bethany when He was in Judea.
Martha is a model of devotion since she is always busy serving the divine Host. A famous episode is the one in which Christ corrects her for her too human eagerness, which risks falling into activism when she loses sight of the spirit of prayer and union with God which must control it. The lesson will be understood, since St. Martha will make this magnificent profession of faith, “Yea, Lord, I have believed that Thou art Christ the Son of the living God, who art come into this world,” (Jn. 11:27).
Persecuted by the Jews who refused to believe in the Messiah, Martha was abandoned at sea on a fragile boat with her sister Mary and her brother Lazarus. The waves carried the boat to the banks of the Camargue, a place now associated with the memory of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer [St. Marys of the Sea].
While Mary retired to St. Baume to lead a life of solitude and penance, and Lazare became the first bishop of Marseilles, St. Martha withdrew near Tarascon on the banks of the Rhone. Equipped with a simple cross, she defeated the Tarasconus, a monster who terrorized the region. The inhabitants were converted as a group, and St. Martha soon founded a community of consecrated virgins. She died a holy death there, surrounded by her nuns, after a life of piety and charity.