Wednesday, November 25, 2020

340. SAINT MARTHA, THE DRAGON TAMER: Inspired by the Image Venerated in the Town of Pateros, Metro Manila

By Tereso “Terry” Raymundo Garcia, Guest Writer


Saint Martha, the sister of Mary and Lazarus, is famously known as the patroness of cooks and housekeepers because of the Gospel narrative of her unselfish service to Jesus. 


It was in 2013 when I first saw the somehow peculiar image of the patroness of Pateros. This small and fully sculpted figure of Saint Martha stands on top of a crocodile, reminiscent of a local legend wherein the saint saves the town from a reptile that has been terrorizing the place and jeopardizing the livelihood of the inhabitants.

The Pateros image is similar to how Saint Martha is depicted according to French lore. Saint Martha’s attributes are derived from an event of principal significance in the traditions of Provence, France: the slaying of the beast known as the “Tarasque”. 

According to pious tradition, Martha and other disciples were banished from the Holy Land after the resurrection of Jesus. She, her siblings, and other disciples were put in a boat without oars which subsequently landed in Provence. Martha first settled in Avignon then went to the region that is now called Tarascon. Martha was approached by townspeople seeking her aid in combatting a fierce dragon,half beast and half fish, which had plagued the Rhône region between Arles and Avignon. 

With a cross in her hand, Martha doused the monster with holy water with a sprig of hyssop. Through her efforts, the monster was subdued; Martha bound it with her belt and it was put to death by the onlookers. The place was later known as Tarascon to remember this event. Saint Martha lived the remainder of her life in this place, and her relics are presently venerated in the town church. 

STA. MARTA, the commissioned image

In gratitude to an answered prayer through the saint’s intercession, we commissioned an exact replica of the Pateros image in 2015. The “de tallado” image was then dressed in traditional beaded vestments known as “abolorio”. 


By March 2018, our devotional image was in need of restoration. We approached the well-known santo-restorer, Dr. Raffy Lopez, for this project. Dr. Lopez suggested on how the restoration will be done so as to make our image unique but still faithful to the traditional iconography. 

The head and hands were re- done in ivory and the painted wooden body was dressed in vestments embroidered in gold threads. The brass metal works were replaced with jeweler-made silver and gold accoutrements designed by Dr.Lopez. 

After two months of meticulous work, our Santa Marta is again ready for veneration. Dr. Lopez and his team did a superb job in redefining our family’s image. Beautiful would be an understatement; a restoration truly beyond expectation. 

In the gospels, Martha was portrayed as someone diligent and meticulous; she was surely one of the first to believe in Jesus. The Lord was often a guest in her home, especially during the time of His public ministry in Jerusalem. 

Saint Martha also gives us a strong witness of faith. We see, in her response to Jesus’ questions after the death of her brother Lazarus, a total belief, a faith that does not hesitate, does not doubt. Martha has complete confidence in God, even in the face of what seems impossible on a human level.

ABOUT THE GUEST WRITER: TERESO “Terry” RAYMUNDO GARCIA is a University of the Philippines graduate who currently write content for an online site. Previous to this, he worked at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Angeles City, and DBP. An avid santo enthusiast, he is a devotee of Sta. Marta, Sta. Teresita de Nino Jesus, Padre Pio, St. Charbel Makhlouf, San Luis Gonzaga and Sto. Nino.