Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

All that is known for certain concerning him is derived from the canonical Gospels. He was born at Arimathea -- hence his surname -- "a city of Judea " ( Luke 23:51 ), which is very likely identical with Ramatha, the birthplace of the Prophet Samuel, although several scholars prefer to identify it with the town of Ramleh. He was a wealthy Israelite ( Matthew 27:57 ), "a good and a just man " ( Luke 23:50 ), "who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God " ( Mark 15:43 ). He is also called by St. Mark and by St. Luke a bouleutes , literally, "a senator", whereby is meant a member of the Sanhedrin or supreme council of the Jews. He was a disciple of Jesus, probably ever since Christ's first preaching in Judea ( John 2:23 ), but he did not declare himself as such "for fear of the Jews " ( John 19:38 ). On account of this secret allegiance to Jesus, he did not consent to His condemnation by the Sanhedrin ( Luke 23:51 ), and was most likely absent from the meeting which sentenced Jesus to death (cf. Mark 14:64 ).

The Crucifixion of the Master quickened Joseph's faith and love, and suggested to him that he should provide for Christ's burial before the Sabbath began. Unmindful therefore of all personal danger, a danger which was indeed considerable under the circumstances, he boldly requested from Pilate the Body of Jesus, and was successful in his request ( Mark 15:43-45 ). Once in possession of this sacred treasure, he -- together with Nicodemus, whom his courage had likewise emboldened, and who brought abundant spices -- wrapped up Christ's Body in fine linen and grave bands, laid it in his own tomb, new and yet unused, and hewn out of a rock in a neighbouring garden, and withdrew after rolling a great stone to the opening of the sepulchre ( Matthew 27:59, 60 ; Mark 15:46 ; Luke 23:53 ; John 19:38-42 ). Thus was fulfilled Isaiah's prediction that the grave of the Messias would be with a rich man ( Isaiah 53:9 ). The Greek Church celebrates the feast of Joseph of Arimathea on 31 July, and the Roman Church on 17 March. The additional details which are found concerning him in the apocryphal "Acta Pilati", are unworthy of credence. Likewise fabulous is the legend which tells of his coming to Gaul A.D. 63, and thence to Great Britain, where he is supposed to have founded the earliest Christian oratory at Glastonbury. Finally, the story of the translation of the body of Joseph of Arimathea from Jerusalem to Moyenmonstre (Diocese of Toul) originated late and is unreliable.

More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • 'Body lifted from the ground': Young Central American woman dies ...
  • The Miracle Prayer HD Video
  • St. Eligius: Saint of the Day for Tuesday, December 01, 2015
  • Daily Readings for Tuesday, December 01, 2015
  • Pope Francis does the unthinkable following emotional tragedy in ...
  • Prayer For Courage HD Video
  • Opium, heroin or cocaine: What drug is YOUR country known for?

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Romans 10:9-18
9 that if you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and if you ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 19:2-3, 4-5
2 day discourses of it to day, night to night hands on the ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 4:18-22
18 As he was walking by the Lake of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 30th, 2015 Image

St. Andrew
November 30: Andrew, like his brother Simon Peter, was a ... Read More