Saint Lazarus, Bishop and Martyr
St. Lazarus became bishop of Milan about the year 449. The times were troublous, for the Goths were ravaging Italy and were masters of Milan, but although St. Lazarus had much to suffer at their hands he ruled his flock prudently and faithfully. St. Ennodius includes him in a list of twelve holy bishops of Milan, of whom St. Ambrose was the first and most eminent. Lazarus is chiefly remembered in connextion with the Rogationtide litanies which he is said to have been the first to introduce. To invoke the protection of God at that distressful period, he ordered a three days' fast with processions, litanies and visits to various churches from the Monday to the Wednesday within the octave of the Ascension. Afterwards, according to the same very questionable authority, St Mamertus introduced these litanies into the diocese of Vienne and changed the date to the three days before Ascension day. The first Council of Orleans (511) ordered that this observance should be general throughout France, and it spread quickly to England and elsewhere. Later still, Archbishop Stephen Nardini and St. Charles Borromeo did much to encourage and establish this custom at Milan, which continues to the present day. St. Lazarus died on March 14, probably in the year 450, after having been bishop eleven years, but his festival is kept on February 11, because saints' days are not celebrated during Lent in the diocese of Milan which, as is well known, follows its own Ambrosian rite.
See the Acta Sanctorum February, vol. ii. That St. Mamertus introduced the Rogation days at Vienne is beyond dispute, but there is no trustworthy evidence to establish the claim of St. Lazarus to priority.
Butler's Lives of The Saints, Herbert J. Thurston, S.J. and Donald Attwater
Nihil Obstat: PATRICIVS MORRIS, S.T.D., L.S.S., CENSOR DEPVTATVS.
Imprimatur: E. MORROGH BERNARD, VICARIVS GENERALIS
WESTMONASTERII: DIE XXIII FEBRVARII MCMLIII