Commemoration Biographies

Historical People In The Christian Church

On the calendar of the Christian Church a number of special dates are noted as commemorations, opportunities to remember special people of God from centuries past. Our churches teach that the remembrance of saints may be commended to us so that we may imitate their faith and good works according to our calling, Augsburg Confession XXI.

Lutherans have always understood that there is great benefit in remembering the saints whom God has given to the Church. The Apology of the Augsburg Confession (Article 21) lists three reasons for such honor. First, we thank God for giving faithful servants to His Church. Second, through such remembrance our faith is strengthened as we see the mercy that God extended to His saints of old. Third, these saints are examples both of faith and of holy living to imitate according to our calling in life.

Figures: Biographies By Month


Joseph of Arimathea This Joseph, mentioned in all four Gospels, came from a small village called Arimathea in the hill country of Judea. He was a respected member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish religious council in Jerusalem. He was presumably wealthy, since he owned his own unused tomb in a garden not far from the site of Jesus’ crucifixion (Mk 27:60). Joseph, a man waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went to Pontius Pilate after the death of Jesus and asked for Jesus’ body (Mk 15:43). Along with Nicodemus, Joseph removed the body and placed it in the tomb (John 19:39). Their public devotion contrasted greatly to the fearfulness of the disciples who had abandoned Jesus.


Commemorations: Q&A

What are “commemorations”? These are days set aside over the course of the year as opportunities to remember some of the Christian men and women who have gone before us in the faith. The dates for these commemorations are usually chosen to coincide with the earthly death of these faithful men and women, which is often referred to as their “heavenly birthday.” We honor the memory of these saints, not as those who are “dead and gone,” but as those who are very much alive forevermore in Christ Jesus. We honor not what they did during their earthly life, but what God worked in and through them to his glory.