Yandex Metrika
The Joy of the Faithful Holy Myrrhbearers

Fearless Faith: the Myrrhbearers, First at the Tomb

The Myrrhbearers, first at the Tomb

“After Your Passion, women went to the tomb to anoint Your body, O Christ God; they saw angels in the tomb and were terrified: for they heard a voice from them that the Lord has risen, granting great mercy to the world.”
(Ipakoi of the feast, Tone 2)

After the Sabbath, at night, on the third day after His sufferings and death, Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead by His Divine power. His human body was transformed. He emerged from the tomb invisible to the guards without moving the stone or breaking the seal of the Sanhedrin. From that moment on, unbeknownst to themselves, the soldiers were guarding an empty tomb.

Suddenly, a mighty tremor shook the earth, and a radiant angel of the Lord descended from Heaven. Approaching, he rolled back the stone that sealed the entrance to the cave where the Lord was buried and sat upon it. His presence, and the brilliance of his garments, caused trembling among the waking guards, who fled in fear. Meanwhile, the messenger of heaven remained by the Lord’s tomb, as if he was waiting for someone.

Myrrh-bearing women. Fragment of a fresco from the Church of Annunciation in Kosovo, Serbia

Myrrh-bearing women. Fragment of a fresco from the Church of Annunciation in Kosovo, Serbia, circa 1318

With the Sabbath observances over, and as the first whispers of dawn were painting the eastern sky, seven figures, their forms fleeting shadows in the pre-dawn light, converged on the garden of Joseph of Arimathea from various directions. Each woman carried a vessel with utmost care. A discerning eye would have recognized them as women, moving with resolute purpose towards the city’s outskirts, unaccompanied by any escort.

Driven by an ardent zeal and with a disregard for the dangers of the night, one woman hurried ahead of the others. Alone in the inky darkness, she became the first to reach the tomb. When she saw the stone rolled away from the entrance and hurried back to the city: “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him” (John 20:2).

The Myrrh-bearing women tell the Apostles Peter and John that the Lord’s Tomb is empty. Byzantine miniature

The Myrrh-bearing women tell the Apostles Peter and John that the Lord’s Tomb is empty. Byzantine miniature

Deep in tears, the woman raced back to the garden. As she stood weeping at the tomb, she stooped down to peer into the cave. Even the presence of two angels — one at the foot and another at the head where Jesus’ body had lain — could not distract her from her grief. When they inquired about her tears, she replied with heartfelt immediacy: “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him” (John 20:13). At her words, the angels seemed to stand in even greater reverence. Suddenly, the woman turned around, startled by a voice. “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” (cf. John 20:15). A fleeting thought crossed her mind — “The gardener must have taken Him!”

“Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him” (John 20:15). The one who had come looked at her with love: “Mary!” As if a veil had fallen from her eyes, still wet with tears, she exclaimed: “Rabboni!” Mary Magdalene rushed to the feet of the Risen One, but He gently stopped her impulse: “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father and My God and your God’” (John 20:17).

Fresco from the Church of Saint Demetrius in Markov Monastery near Skopje, Macedonia

The Myrrh-bearing women at the Lord’s Tomb. Fresco from the Church of Saint Demetrius in Markov Monastery near Skopje, Macedonia, circa 1376

On that Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, Salome mother of James and John sons of Zebedee, Susanna, Mary wife of Clopas, Mary and Martha sisters of Lazarus, and other Myrrh-bearing women visited the Lord’s Tomb at different times. Eager to pay their last respects to their beloved Teacher, they had prepared precious fragrant spices and hurried to serve Him, even in death. A great earthquake and the appearance of Angels terrified the guards who went off to Jerusalem to report the extraordinary event, allowing the Myrrh-bearing women unimpeded access to the Tomb...


Only love can make a person faithful to the end, without limits, without looking back, overcoming the fear of shame and death. Although the Lord did not call these women as He did the apostles and seventy disciples to follow Him, they followed Him on their own as their Saviour and Son of God and served Him as they could. Having suffered with Christ and shared in His crucifixion publicly, these humble and unlearned women received the highest wisdom and gift of evangelism for their fidelity, courage, and humility. They were the first to learn of Christ’s Resurrection, saw the risen Lord and were the first to proclaim to the world: “Christ is risen!” According to tradition, among the Myrrh-bearing women was also the Most Holy Theotokos. The Lord mysteriously appeared to His Mother after His Resurrection.

Mary Magdalene and her companion, the other Mary, arrived at the tomb seeking the Lord and saw an Angel on the stone, radiant like lightning, who said to them: “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is risen, just as He said! Seek Him not here, but in Galilee. To Him we cry out: O Lord, risen from the dead, glory to You!”
(Sticheron of the Feast, Tone 1, Automelon.)

Fresco from the Church of Saint Stephen in Nesebar, Bulgaria

The Appearance of the Risen Christ to the Myrrh-bearing Women. Apostles Peter and John the Theologian at the Empty Tomb of the Lord. Fresco from the Church of Saint Stephen in Nesebar, Bulgaria.

On the third Sunday after Pascha, the Church reverently and solemnly commemorates Saint Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and the Myrrh-bearing Women, who during the life of the Saviour were timid disciples, hesitant in determining their own fates, yet at the crucial moment showed greater fortitude than His closest disciples through their loyalty, gratitude, and love for Him. They overcame fear and revealed themselves to this world when others hid: Joseph of Arimathea requested Jesus’ body, Nicodemus, who only dared visit the Lord at night, together with Joseph, buried their Teacher, and they remained forever faithful to Him. The Myrrh-bearing Women also did not fear being at Golgotha when the Lord died on the Cross; among the disciples, only John was present. On that Resurrection morning, they went to anoint the body of Jesus, rejected by people, betrayed by His own, condemned by strangers as a criminal, but they found a risen God.

The Right Hand of Saint Mary Magdalene Equal-to-the-Apostles, Holy Mount Athos

The Right Hand of Saint Mary Magdalene Equal-to-the-Apostles, Holy Mount Athos.

“Love proved stronger than fear and death, stronger than threats, stronger than terror before every danger, and where reason and conviction did not save the disciples from fear, love overcame everything... Thus throughout all of history, both pagan and Christian, love conquers. The Old Testament tells us that love is as strong as death: it alone can battle death — and win.”
(Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh)

Throughout the rest of their lives, these holy women carried the joyous news of Christ’s Resurrection, sharing the ministry of spreading the Gospel with the Apostles. May the prayers of Saint Joseph, Nicodemus, and the Myrrhbearers inspire within us pure hearts, unwavering faith in Christ, and true devotion to His Church.

“O Pascha! Deliverance from sorrow; for today Christ has shined forth from the tomb as from a bridal chamber and filled the women with joy, saying: Proclaim it to the apostles.”
(Paschal Sticheron, Tone 5)

This article was compiled by the team of

Photo credits: the Internet

Source Materials:

1. “Give the Message to My Brethren: Iconography of the Myrrh-bearing Women” - Icon Painting Department of Saint Petersburg
2. Religious Academy (
3. “Myrrh-bearing Women at the Lord’s Tomb”: The First Icon of the Resurrection | Orthodox Magazine “Neskuchny Sad” (

May 19, 2024
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