The Master of Perea
St. Lazarus Between Martha and Mary

Early 16th century
Oil on panel, 69.6 x 64.9 in. (177 x 165 cm.)
Museo Lázaro Galdiano, Madrid

These three were the siblings who figure in John 11:1-44 and whom later legends claimed to have traveled to Gaul and evangelized there.

On the left is St. Mary Magdalene with her attribute, the ointment jar. The object in her right hand is unlike any attribute that I have seen in the many portraits of the Magdalene that I have examined. Perhaps it is a crown of thorns, meant to associate her with other women contemplatives such as St. Rose of Lima, who wore such a crown.

St. Lazarus wears the garb and carries the sword of a Spanish aristocrat of the period. I know of no legend associating a sword with this saint. The fictional Lazarus of Luke 16:19-31 was the patron saint of the medieval order of Knights Hospitallers, so it is possible that the sword arises from a confusion with the gospel Lazarus (see Farmer, 266).

On the right St. Martha holds a cross and a jug, a reference to the episode in her legend when she defeated the "Great Dragon Tarasconus" by throwing holy water at him and showing him a cross.

Read more about St. Lazarus, St. Mary Magdalene, and St. Martha.

Source: Wikimedia Commons