We conclude the study by John Keyser
The Resting Place of Joseph of Arimathea
In spite of the many sorrows that had darkened his life,
Joseph's personal triumphs in spreading the teachings of Christ,
from Avalon to the far reaches of the British Isles and across
the Chancel into Europe, far outweighed the tragedies he had
shared and witnessed. He saw his British friends meet and shatter
the legions of Rome - pushing back all that Rome could muster.
During these years in which the soil of Britain became saturated
with the blood of friend and foe alike, not once did the foot of
a Roman soldier penetrate the protective line of British warriors
that guarded the secrets of Avalon. This incredible defense was
carried out under the dual leadership of the Pendragon Caradoc
(Caractacus) and King Arviragus.
(As the Roman Historian of the first century - Tacitus - shows in
his history of the Roman wars in Britain, the truth is that the
British nation was every bit equal to the might of the Roman war
machine - defeating them numerous times under Caradoc [Caractacus
as the Romans called him] and the great warrior woman Boadicea.
The Romans "occupied" England, but never conquered England and
Wales. The Scottish never even allowed the Romans in their land.
The Roman Adrean had to build a wall [the historic "Adrean's
Wall" I learned about in school in our history class] to keep the
Scot clans from coming down into England and pushing the Romans
back into Europe.
The recorded history of the might and power and leadership of the
British against the arms of the Romans is clearly preserved for
us in the histories written by Tacitus - obtainable in your
Public Library to this day. Go and lend this book and you will find
histories not taught in schools - Keith Hunt)
Joseph witnessed the British defeat at Brandon and the
treacherous betrayal of Caractacus into captivity with all his
royal family, followed by the Roman pardon of the British king.
(That alone, as recorded by Tacitus, is magnificent reading, how
Caractacus made his speech before the Roman Senate, how the
people of Rome stood in awe of this great British leader who had
defeated their armies so mant times. His speech is recorded by
Tacitus, so powerful and so truthful, the Roman Senate spared his
life and all his family. Caractacus was to live in Rome, and when
returned to Britain was to promise to not enter war with Rome.
Caractacus obeyed the deal given him. He and his family were
converted to Christianity while in Rome. His family's connection
to the apostle Paul and other NT preachers is given in other
studies on this Website - it is fascinating reading - God was
surely working to bring about the speading of the Gospel in
Britain and hence the first country in the world to make
Christianity its national religion - Keith Hunt)
He saw the slaughter of the defenseless and the atrocious
massacre at Menai - which led to the revolt of the British Queen
Boadicea and the torching of Roman London, Colchester and St.
Albans with over 80,000 Roman deaths.
(Boadicea is remembered in Britain with a large figure of her and
her horse drawn chariot, as she would have appeared in battle
dress charging the Roman armies. This figure is found in the city
of London. Boadicea won many battles against the Romans. The last
won she fought in, the British were defeated and realizing she
would be taken captive she poisoned herself to death, not putting
herself in the hands of the Romans because being a woman, she
knew what they would do to her. Along with a statue of Sir
Winston Churchill and other warriors of British history, found
in London, is the honor given to Boadicea - Keith Hunt)
"Through it all there was a continuous flow of converts aflame
with the fire of the Gospel, spreading from Avalon into the land
and camp of the enemy, valorously defiant. The martyrdom of
Aristobulus and Simon Zelotes in Britain must have wrung his
"heart, but the ... mission of St.Paul in Wales with the royal
British, must have soared his stalwart heart" ("The Drama of the
Lost Disciples" pp.228-229
Joseph lived to see all but one of the original apostles of
Christ go to their rest. James, the brother of John, had been put
to the sword by Herod in 64 A.D. And James, the brother of Jesus,
was hurled down from a pinnacle of the Temple to his death in 62
A.D. Only John outlived Joseph. Evidently, he was one of the very
few apostles and disciples of Christ to die a natural death at
the advanced old age of 101.
Fifty-two years after Joseph had tenderly placed the body of
his nephew Jesus into his own personal tomb, this intrepid man of
God passed into history on JULY 27, 82 A.D. Loving hands and
heavy hearts laid Joseph to rest among the Christian company that
had preceded him - near to the little wattle meeting-place which
he and his companions had built over forty years before when they
arrived on British soil.
Cressy, in his "Church History of Brittany, wrote:
"Joseph was buried near the little wattle church he built."
Melchin, who wrote circa 560 A.D., recorded:
"The disciples ... died in succession and were buried in the
cemetery [on the Isle of Avalon]. Among them, Joseph of Marmore,
named of Artmathea, receives perpetual sleep, and he lies in
linea bifurcata near the south corner of the oratorio, which is
built of hurdles [wattles]" (Quoted by John of Ghtstonbury).
According to George F. Jowett, on the stone lid of the
sarcophagus in which his bones were later buried, under the
initials of Joseph of Arimathea, are inscribed these immortal
words: "Ad Brittanos veni post Christmn Sepelivi. Qocui. Quievi."
(To the Britons I came after I buried the Christ. I taught, I
have entered my rest) "In these few simple words are contained
more tragedy, romance, and drama than in any other inscription
ever written; words so characteristic of all the faithful
Apostles of Christ, seeking no self-justification, merely a
simple record of a duty performed" (Ibid., p.229).
Maelgwyn of Avalon writing about 450 A.D. - describes the
place of burial in these words:
"Joseph of Arimathea, the NOBLE DECURION, received his
everlasting rest with his eleven associates in the Isle of
Avalon. He lies in the southern angle of the bifurcated line of
the Oratorium of the Adorable Virgin."
Long before the era of Maelgwyn, a magnificent Abbey had
been constructed over the original site - enclosing the wattle
house of Christ in lead for its preservation, along with relics
of Christians past. All the early and later authorities, such as
John of Teignmouth, Leland, Hearne and Morgan, refer to the SAME
RESTING PLACE of Joseph as cited by MaeIgwyn; and seldom do they
fail to quote the inscription as it appeared on Joseph's tomb.
The erudite Arcbbishop Usher refers to William of Malmesbtay
as "our chief historian." Leland and others call William "an
elegant, learned, and faithful historian." William lived in the
famous Glastonbury Abbey on two different occasions in order to
complete his outstanding manuscript. At that time, before the
great fire of 1184, all the ancient records and manuscripts were
in existence and at his disposal. He also CONFIRMS the time and
place of Joseph's death and burial......
The remains of Joseph of Arimathea lay undisturbed until
1345 A.D. During this year one JOHN BLOOM of London was given
permission by King Edward III to dig for the body of Joseph -
provided he first receive the consent of the Abbot and the monks
of Glastonbury. When this was duly granted, John Bloom located
and RECOVERED THE REMAINS of Joseph. R. de Boston, a monk in the
Lincolnshire Monastery, simply recorded: "The bodies of Joseph of
Arimathea and his companions were found in Glastonbury."
Archbishop Ussher, in his book, provides a copy of the
license, copied from the royal archives in the Tower of London,
given by Edward III in 1345, to John Bloom of London, with the
right to excavate the body of Joseph underneath the enclosure of
the monastery. Ussher also records that the body of Joseph was
found exactly where all had stated it rested. The license was
signed by King Edward on June 8, 1345. Ussher also quotes from
the "Record of the burial of St.Joseph and his companions," from
the "Great Register of the Monks of Glaston."
Another reference to the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea at
Glastonbury is presented by Lio nel Smithett Lewis, who spent
most of his 86 years searching the archives for information about
Joseph at Avalon. He writes:
"The body of St.Joseph, whose burial at the wattle church of
St.Mary was recorded by Maelgwyn of Avalon, writing about A.D.
450, lay undisturbed till the year 1345, when Edward III gave his
licence to John Bloom of London to dig for the body if the Abbot
and monks permitted, and just as the discovery of the bones of
King Arthur at Glastonbury in 1190 were recorded in far-away
Essex by the monk Ralph de Coggeshall, so in a faraway monastery
in 1367 we find a monk recording that "the bodies of Joseph of
Anmathea and his companions were found at Glastonbury.
The remains of St.Joseph were put in a silver casket which could
be raised at will from a now sarcophagus, the base of a shrine to
which the frequent pilgrimage was made. This stone altar tomb,
the base of the shrine, like the Holy Thorn, survived the
"Holinshed, in his "Chronicle," AD.1577, speaks of St.Josephs
sepulchre as being still in Glastonbury, and the learned John Ray
in his "Itinerary" records that on June 2, 1662, 'We saw Joseph
of Arimaha's tomb and chapel at the end of the church.' As we
have seen, the Holy Thorn was cut down in the Great Rebellion.
The attermath of the same period saw the altar tomb of St.Joseph
leave its shrine. During the Commonwealth a Nonconformist divine
was put in as incumbent of the Perish Church. In 1662 this
interloper was turned out and a Churchman instituted. It was that
very same year, in which by God's Providesee John Ray came to
Glastonbury and saw the tomb in the ruined chapel. Later in the
year, tradition says, from fear of Puritanical fanaticism like
that which destroyed the Holy Thorn, silently, hasily at night,
the altar tomb was removed from the ruined shrine in St.Mary's
Chapel at the Abbey, and placed in the churchyard of the Parish
Church for protection outside of the East end of St.Mays Chapel
in that Church. There it remained till the AUTUMN OF 1928, when
loving hands brought it reverently into the Church, and placed it
in the ancient St.Katherine's Chapel, the North Transept.
Moreover, there is a plinth inside to receive the silver ark with
the Saint's remains. A glass top was put on the tomb that as
generations might see what was found. - "Galstonbury, the Mother
It was Lewis himself who discovered Joseph's Altar Tomb that
had been buried in the churchyard for some 266 years. One autumn
day (in 1928), while walking by the ancient cemetery, Mr.Lewis
stubbed his toe on a stone object protruding from the ground -
evidently lifted out of the ground by frost. Upon excavation, the
stone object turned out to be Joseph's long lost tomb.
Today the stone sarcophagus shows evidence of having been
wrenched from its original resting place - the work evidently
being done by some strong metal lever or bar. According to E.
Raymond Capt, "the silver casket (containing the bones of
St.Joseph) allegedly reposing in the tomb are missing. However,
the sarcophagus contains a "plinth" or base, which would have
held such a casket" ("Traditions of Glasionbary," p.94).....
The story of Joseph of Arimathea. filled with adventure,
drama, tragedy, and immense courage, has long been overlooked by
the Churches of God. This fearless man of God rightfully belongs
at the leading edge of the missionary effort to spead the Word of
God to all nations. He stands shoulder-toshoulder with Paul,
Peter, and others who left their indelible footprints in the far
reaches of the Roman Empire and beyond.
Entered on this Website March 2008
Joseph of Arimathea did stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Paul,
Peter, and others .... SO DO WE ALL when it comes to SALVATION!
When it comes to the work we are called to do for God, in its
function, Joseph did a good and faithful work, an important work,
yes, but his work, though important, cannot be said to stand
alongside the work of the apostle Paul, or Peter, or John. Joseph
was chosen for a work but he was not chosen as one of the Twelve
apostles of the Lord.
We find his work was good and fascinating to uncover, so much
history is hidden today from the average person and from just
about all the school systems of the Western world.
True history of the long ago ages is wonderful to research and
find it out. It is the part purpose of this Website to present to
you histories hidden and forgotten as pertains to our heritage of