Monthly Archives: February 2016

The ‘Three Marys’ and the ‘Saint Marys of the Sea’

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Mary Magdalene, Mary Salome and Mary Jacobe

There is a fascinating legend about the city called ”Saintes Maries de la Mer” in Provence, the southern part of France.

Three Saints, Mary Magdalene, Mary Salome and Mary Jacobe, whose relics are the object of devotion for pilgrims in the ” Saintes Maries de la Mer”, were the first witnesses according to the Gospels  of the resurrection of Jesus after his crucifixion in a place called Golgotha in the Old City of Jerusalem.

They followed their Uncle Joseph of Arimathea by boat to Alexandria, Egypt. A French legend tells us about their drift that led them on this Mediterranean coast to a Fortress city called at the time ” Oppidum-Ra” and which became  ”Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer” in 1838.

A beautiful church fortress, built in the Middle Ages at the heart of the city, reminds us of the dangers that were rampant in this region due to the impromptu arrival of pirates. It was a strategic retreat that allowed the population to shelter far from danger. This also explains the walls with slits and a fresh water well that is located inside it.

When talking about the Camargue and the Saintes, there is always the image of the Gypsies that comes to our mind with their annual religious pilgrimage the last sunday in May, in honor of their landlady the Holy Sarah.

Black Sarah the patron Saint of the gypsies
Who was she ?

An Egyptian child servant with dark skin, who was entirely devoted to the three Maries

or

A generous woman from the village who welcomed the three women warmly upon their arrival and offered them hospitality.

Several Mediterranean towns such as Arles, Les Baux de Provence, Marseille claim the privilege of hosting the Barque of the Holies Marys.

The three Marys were buried together at the heart of the city where the medieval church was built.

The tomb of Mary Magdalene can be seen in the Massif of the ”Sainte Baume” ….

Martha, the sister of Lazarus converted to a terrible monster (the Tarasque) that used to rise out of the waters of the Rhone to devour people and livestock at Tarascon …

 

 

 

City's Emblem of Saint Mary de la Mer

City’s Emblem of Saint Mary de la Mer

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