Mary Magdalene Pilgrimage in Provence – July 2018

If you are interested in flying to the South of France and spending time to get to know this exceptional friend of Jesus in a very personal way, please contact me (Paula Lawlor) and I will see how I can help you.

July 17-23, 2018

Mary Magdalene Pilgrimage in Provence

FULL ITINERARY BELOW

Mary Magdalene Pilgrimage in ProvenceLa Sainte-Baume—the Cave where Mary Magdalene
spent the last thirty years of her life in prayer and contemplation

.

Mary Magdalene Pilgrimage in Provence

July 17-23, 2018
reserve now

This Saint Mary Magdalene Novena Pilgrimage over the feast day (July 22nd) is being offered to a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 6 pilgrims on a first to reserve basis. We will stay in a lovely hotel in the town of St Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume (which houses the Basilica of Saint Mary Magdalene) for the entire 6 nights, and follow the path of Saint Mary Magdalene after the Resurrection when she came to Provence (47AD) and ended up spending the last thirty years of her life in a Cave up a mountain called La Sainte Baume.

July 17-23, 2018
Contact Paula with questions & to reserve

Mary Magdalene Pilgrimage MAP

Mary Magdalene Pilgrimage in Provence

TRAVEL DATE:
You must fly Monday 7/16 in order to arrive Tuesday morning 7/17.

.

Arrive at Marseille Airport—Tuesday morning, July 17th
Transport from Marseille Airport to Hôtel de France in St Maximin- la-Sainte-Baume (about a 1 hour drive). Store luggage with hotel if the rooms are not ready (normal check-in is 3 pm).

DAY 1—Tuesday, July 17th
Apt & St Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume
PICNIC LUNCH—Once your bags are dropped at the Hôtel de France we will leave for Apt.  A tasty lunch has been packed for the car with baguette sandwiches from Le Fournil Provençal, just up the street from the hotel, cold water, fruit and dessert. The drive will take a little over an hour and a half giving you time to rest in the car after your long flight and enjoy the drive from the Var to the Vaucluse, two of the six departments that make up the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.

Le Fournil Provençal baguettes

Apt

RELICS OF SAINTE ANNE IN APT

The Cathedrale Sainte-Anne in Apt houses the remains of Sainte Anne. Sainte Anne is the Mother of the Virgin Mary. According to a most ancient and uninterrupted tradition, the body of Sainte Anne was carried to Gaul [a province of the Roman empire which included what are now the countries of France and upper Italy] by the same vessel which carried Lazarus, Martha and Mary Magdalene. During the first century of the Christian era, these friends of Our Lord were banished from Palestine because of their faith. From their hands Sainte Anne’s precious remains were taken for safekeeping to the city of Apta Julia, which today is the city of Apt, France. In those stormy days of persecution, it was necessary to hide the relics of the martyrs and saints.

Consequently, the remains of Sainte Anne were buried in an underground church or crypt. The martyrology of Apt, one of the most ancient in existence, mentions this fact.

Cathedral of Saint Anne in Apt
Cathedral of Sainte Anne in Apt
.
The first bishop of Apta Julia, St. Auspicius, who died before 118, took further precautions to guard this holy treasure from desecration and had the body buried still deeper in the subterranean chapel. All approach to it was carefully concealed till persecutions and invasions should have ceased. For centuries, the country was repeatedly overrun by hordes of barbarians, and it was only natural that during these agitated years the precise spot where St. Auspicius had carefully hidden his treasure became lost in obscurity. We will learn how they were miraculously discovered in 792 by Charlemagne with the help of a deaf and dumb boy.
.
Altar in the Cathedral of Sainte Anne in Apt with the crypt below. A level below the crypt is where the relics were discovered in 792 AD.
.
.
This stunningly beautiful crypt is below the main altar in the Cathedral of Sainte Anne. For centuries the precious remains of Sainte Anne were hidden one level below the crypt until their discovery in 792.
.
 After our visit to the Cathedral in Apt there will still be some time for a little shopping as we find our way back to where we parked our SUV. You can relax in the car on the way back to St Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume. We will try to be back in time for the 6:30 pm Mass at the basilica. After Mass we will visit the basilica and venture down the steps to the Crypt which houses the skull of Saint Mary Magdalene in its gold reliquary.
.
.
St Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume
.

 Stairs leading down to the Crypt

.
Hopefully you will get the chance to meet Fr Florian Racine, pastor of the basilica and founder of the Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist with Bishop Dominic Rey of Fréjus-Toulon. The motherhouse is just down the street from the basilica and Fr Florian may be the one to celebrate the Mass.
.

Crypt of Saint Mary Magdalene

The alabaster sarchophagus of Saint Mary Magdalene is in the center and lays below the iron grate which houses the skull of Mary Magdalene in its gold reliquary. The reliquary is locked behind the grate most of the year for safekeeping. In preparation for the feast day week (July 22nd) each year, the reliquary is carried out of the crypt and up the stairs to the main altar. There is a candlelight procession for the opening of the feast where eight men carry the reliquary through the streets of the town. Another procession where they do the same is the afternoon of the feast day Mass.

.
The skull reliquary, designed in 1860, has golden hair with four angels supporting it and a special place for the “noli me tangere” below.
.
Basilique Sainte Marie Madeleine, St maximin
Main altar in the Basilique Sainte Marie Madeleine
.

There are still other remains of Mary Magdalene that were recovered after the Revolution that are kept in the red urn above the altar.

While at the basilica we will pray Day 1 of our Novena to Saint Mary Magdalene then walk back through the town to the Hôtel de France and freshen up in our rooms and then meet at the Côté Jardin for dinner.

.
DAY 2—Wednesday, July 18th
Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
.
.

Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in the Camargue is where the Rhône River meets the Mediterranean Sea.  This is the place where Mary Magdalene and her companions’ boat landed in 47 AD after being forced out of Palestine. Two of Mary Magdalene’s companions on the boat were the two Marys with her at the Empty Tomb, Saint Mary Salome (the wife of Zebedee and mother of the apostles James the greater and John the beloved) and Saint Mary Jacobe (the mother of the apostle James the less). These two Marys never left Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. 

We will visit the old parish church (a fortress) where the two Marys’ remains were discovered in 1448 by René d’Anjou or “The Good King René,” the last ruler of Provence. We’ll pray Day 2 of our Novena to Saint Mary Magdalene in the church.

NOTE: Some of the other companions on the boat with Mary Magdalene were her brother Lazarus, her sister, Martha, Maximin (one of the 72 disciples of Christ), Marcelle (Martha’s maid), Cedonius (the blind man Jesus healed), and the remains of Sainte Anne, the mother of Mary.

.
Saintes-Maries Parish Church, France
Parish Church of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
.

Saintes-Maries parish churchParish Church Interior

The relics of Saint Mary Salome and Saint Mary Jacobe are in a painted wooden box high above the altar for safekeeping. The reliquary box is lowered on the closest Sunday to October 22nd (feast day) and the church is full with singing devotees holding candles high in the air.

Sainte Marie Salome et Sainte Marie Jacobe relicsPainted Box with Relics of Saint Mary Jacobe & Saint Mary Salome.

After our visit to the church we will walk to my favorite restaurant in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, Brasserie Le Belvédère. I love it because of its fabulous location and because of the wonderful family that owns it.

As we drive through the little fishing village of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer we will see the very large Camargue Cross, a symbol of faith, hope and love—Cross for FAITH, Anchor for HOPE and Heart for LOVE. The Cross is made to resemble two tridents, the tool of the gardian who watches over the white Camargue Horses that roam free in the marshland. Gardians live in small thatched roof huts called cabanes.

Camargue CrossCamargue Cross

gardian's cabaneGardian’s cabane

We will have lunch overlooking the Mediterranean at Brasserie Le Belvédère. Looking back towards the village is the old fortress church.

Brasserie Le Belvedere, Saintes-Maries

After lunch we will take a relaxing boat ride up the Camargue to see the wildlife—Camargue horses & bulls who roam free, and a wide variety of beautiful birds, including the pink flamengo.

 

Camargue Horses
.
We will take a little time for shopping in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer after the boat ride and then return to St Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume. There will be a little time to relax before we have dinner at Côté Jardin.

.

DAY 3—Thursday, July 19th
Marseille

After breakfast at the hotel Véronique will take us on a day trip to the oldest city in France. The French city of Marseille was founded about 2600 years ago by the Greeks. After Mary Magdalene and her companions landed in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, she went with her brother Lazarus (who became the first bishop of Marseille) and Maximin to Marseille, probably by boat. We will visit Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde, the Neo-Byzantine basilica atop the highest hill in Marseille which has a panoramic view of the Bay of Marseille and the Mediterranean beyond.

.

Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde
 .
Then we will drive down by the port to the Abbey of St Victor.

 

Marseille Port
Abbey of St Victor
.
Tradition holds that in about 415, John Cassian founded two monasteries of St Victor at Marseille, one for men (the later Abbey of St Victor), the other for women.

.

Lazarus Confessional in the crypt of the Abbey of St Victor with a relief of Mary Magdalene at La Sainte-Baume over the altar.v
.

While in the crypt of the Abbey we will pray Day 3 of our Novena to Saint Mary Magdalene..

From the Abbey of St Victor we will drive to the other side of the port to the Panier district. First we’ll stop in my favorite Marseille Soap shop. Before we go in, look up and see Les Accoules bell tower, which is the only thing that remains of the oldest church in Marseille. This bell tower is one of the oldest landmarks in Marseille. St Anthony of Padua actually preached in its church. The soap shop is in the old Sacristy.

Marseille Soap Shop
.
We will have lunch at Au Lamparo on the Place de Lenche (where Lazarus was imprisoned and beheaded below) and then walk over to the Cathedral of Saint Mary Major which contains the skull of Lazarus and the tomb of St Eugène de Mazenod – bishop of Marseille (1837-1861).

 

Restaurant Au Lamparo on the Place de Lenche in Marseille
.
Cathédrale Sainte-Marie-Majeure
.
Skull of Lazarus, 1st bishop of Marseille and brother of Mary Magdalene
.
This will be a wonderful day in old Marseille, the oldest town in France, rich in history and tradition. Véronique will then take us back to our hotel where we can relax a little before dinner.

 

July 17-23, 0218

Contact Paula with questions
or
reserve now

DAY 4—Friday, July 20th
Aix-en-Provence
Breakfast at the hotel. We will drive to Aix-en-Provence (35-40 minutes away) and visit the Cathédrale Saint Sauveur where Mary Magdalene and Saint Maximin (the first bishop of Aix) dedicated the first chapel to Jesus Christ. The remains of the floor of this chapel are inside the Cathedral. We will try to get into the Sacristy (usually locked) to see special relics.

 

Cathédrale Saint Sauveur
..
Remains of the floor of the chapel Maximin & Mary Magdalene
dedicated to the Savior
.
We will pray Day 4 of our Novena to Saint Mary Magdalene when we are near this chapel.

.

Mary Magdalene’s last communion
.
Foot of St Andrew (the apostle & St Peter’s brother)
.
The Burning Bush by Nicholas Froment

.

5th Century Baptistry
.
Aix-en-Provence is one of the loveliest towns in Provence. We will walk from one side of the center of Aix to the other (where cars cannot go), stopping at a very nice bookshop and passing by the many fountains and all the outdoor markets. All markets in Aix are special. There will be time for shopping. There are so many wonderful things at the outdoor markets that are specially made in this area.

 

Market day Aix Provence by Sharon Furner (my friend)

.

Les Deux Garçons
.
We’ll have a delicious lunch at Les Deux Garçons on the Cours Mirabeau (the finest avenue in town). Some of the many famous people who have dined at Les Deux Garçons include Winston Churchill, Pablo Picasso, Edith Piaf and Paul Cézanne.
After lunch we’ll walk down the street to the Chapel of the Oblates where Saint Eugène de Mazenod founded the Missionaries of Provence (1826) which was later called the Congregation of the “Oblates of Mary Immaculate.” Eugène de Mazenod was said to have “A heart as big as the world.” He later became the Bishop of Marseille. We will have learned about Eugène de Mazenod in Marseille.

 

Chapel of the Oblates
.
We will step inside the Chapel of the Oblates where there is a lovely statue of Saint Mary Magdalene.

.

 

The “Good King René,” the last ruler of Provence

 

After strolling around Aix-en-Provence we’ll return to St Maximin-la- Sainte-Baume and have time to relax and then have dinner at Côté Jardin.

 

DAY 5—Saturday, July 21st
Tarascon & Arles

After an early breakfast (7 am) we will drive through PROVENCE to the extreme west of the Bouches-du-Rhône department to Tarascon (about a 2 hour drive) to visit the Church where the relics of Saint Martha were discovered (in 1187 during a reconstruction of the church). Martha is the sister of Lazarus and Mary Magdalene.

After visiting Collégiale St-Marthe we drive south to ArlesArles was once a provincial capital of ancient Rome and known for many remains from that era. We will visit the Church of St Trophine, named after the first bishop of Arles.

 

Today is a day to sit back and enjoy the beautiful countryside. Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur is divided into 6 departments. We will be in three of them on this pilgrimage, the VarBouches-du-Rhône and Vaucluse. We will see some beautiful sunflower fields near TarasconArles, a little south of Tarascon, is the town where Vincent van Gogh painted “Sunflowers” (1888).

 

Tarascon

.

La Tarasque – across the street from Collégiale St-Marthe in Tarascon
.
According to the Golden Legend, “There was, at that time, on the banks of the Rhône, in a marsh between Arles and Avignon, a dragon, half animal, half fish, thicker than an ox, longer than an horse, with teeth like swords and big as horns, he hid in the river where he took the life of all passers-by and submerged vessels.” But Saint Martha found the beast and charmed it with hymns, prayers and holy water, and led back the tamed Tarasque to the city. The people, terrified by the monster, attacked it. The monster offered no resistance and died there. Martha then preached to the people and converted many of them to Christianity. Sorry for what they had done to the tamed monster, the newly Christianized townspeople changed the town’s name to Tarascon.

 

Reliquary of Saint Martha – sister of Mary Magdalene
.
After getting close up to the statue of La Tarasque and looking at Château de Roi René (King René’s Castle) across the street, we will visit Collégiale St-Marthe the church with Saint Martha’s relic. We will go down below to the crypt. This is where her remains were found in 1187. They believe it was formerly the house in which she lived. We’ll see beautiful paintings with scenes of Martha’s life, including the time with her sister Mary (Magdalene) and Jesus where Jesus told Martha, “Mary has chosen the better part.”

.

Arles
We’ll leave Tarascon and drive south to Arles where we will have lunch at a lovely restaurant Jardin Des Arts. Later we’ll walk by a restaurant Vincent van Gogh painted when he lived in Arles from 1888-89 which he called “Café de la nuit.” The restaurant still exists in the condition it was then and is renamed Café Van Gogh. You may know the painting.

 

Jardin Des Arts
.
Café Van Gogh
.

Then we will walk to the Church of St Trophime on the Place de la Republique. It was built between the 12th century and the 15th century, and is in the Romanesque architectural tradition. The church was built upon the site of the 5th century basilica of Arles named for St Stephen, the first Christian martyr.

In 245 AD Pope Fabian sent out seven bishops from Rome to Gaul, to preach the Gospel: Gatien to Tours, Trophimus to Arles, Paul to Narbonne, Saturninus to Toulouse, Denis to Paris, Austromoine to Clermont, and Martial to Limoges.

We will see many relics in the Church of St Trophime where we will pray Day 5 of our Novena to Saint Mary Magdalene. Then we’ll drive back to St Maximinand have dinner at Côté Jardin.

Church of St Trophime in Arles
.
DAY 6—Sunday, July 22nd    Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene!
La Sainte-Baume & St Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume
Today is the Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene. We will have breakfast at the hotel and then we’ll drive to the hôtellerie (about 25 minutes) for the Feast Day Procession. All the pilgrims gather in front of the hôtellerie. The Dominicans will carry the tibia of Saint Mary Magdalene in the reliquary up to the Cave. The Cave is where this relic normally resides. We will attend the 11 am Feast Day Mass and leave our petitions for Saint Mary Magdalene on the altar.

.

.

This is the same relic of Mary Magdalene that was brought to California by the Dominicans for the 2011 Relic Tour and again to Chicago, Illinois for the 2013 Relic Tour which traveled throughout the churches of Chicago for several weeks and then down through the state to St. Louis, Missouri.

 

Procession to the Cave of La Sainte-Baume on the Feast Day

.

Mary Magdalene, apostle of the apostles

On June 10, 2016 the Vatican announced that a decree entitled: “Mary Magdalene, apostle of the apostles” was issued in accordance with the will of Pope Francis raising the July 22nd memorial of Saint Mary Magdalene to a feast on the church’s liturgical calendar.  The Mass from now on will also include a specific Preface entitled “Apostle of the apostles.”

.

July 22nd Feast Day Mass in 2014 in the Cave of La Sainte-Baume
.

After Mass we will climb the stairs to the Rock of Penitence (where she slept) and leave our petitions before the statue of Saint Mary Magdalene. We will wait until the crowd thins and then pray Day 6 of our Novena in front of the Statue of Saint Mary Magdalene raised up by angels. This should be a very special time for us.

We’ll have our picnic lunch just outside the Cave and then walk down the mountain and visit the grounds of the hôtellerie, the chapel, the gift shop and the cemetery, and then drive back to St Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume for the remaining feast day festivities.

Statue in the Cave of Saint Mary Magdalene raised up by angels
.
Tradition of Mary Magdalene being raised up by angels began with a monk who lived in a cave close to Sainte-Baume who saw a woman being carried with regularity by angels and heard beautiful singing. He prayed to God to understand what he had seen and one day the woman spoke to him. She asked him if he knew of the Mary Magdalene who accompanied Jesus during his travels. When he replied “yes” she explained that she was Mary Magdalene and that she had been living in that cave for the last thirty years, and each day had been carried up by angels to receive nourishment and then carried back. Mary Magdalene then asked the monk to go down the mountain to the church in Tégulata and tell Maximin that she would come soon as she was at the end of her life.

.

St Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume   Feast Day Procession

Feast Day Mass will be celebrated at the basilica today at the same time as the Feast Day Mass in the Cave of La Sainte-Baume. This is a very exciting day in St Maximin-la-Sainte- Baume. All the people in the town come out for the festivities which begin very early in the morning. In the afternoon there is a Feast Day Procession through the streets of the town of St Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume.

.

The Association Santo Madaleno is a group of men and women whose purpose is to defend and uphold the traditions of Provence and the cult of Saint Mary Magdalene. Every summer this group organizes the Traditional and religious feast of Saint Mary Magdalene. The women of the group dress in the traditional Provençal dress and the men dress up as gardians or local cowboys. You will see them at the Feast Day Mass and in the Procession carrying the relic of Saint Mary Magdalene (her skull in its gold reliquary) through the streets of the town on this special day. You will see my friends Véronique and Norbert Flayol who are key members of the Association Santo Madaleno.

 

Saint Mary Magdalene Golden Reliquary

.

The skull of Mary Magdalene is protected with a gold face mask when the eight gardians carry the golden reliquary in the Feast Day Procession through the streets of St Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume.

 

Mary Magdalene Feast Day Procession in Provence
Saint Mary Magdalene Feast Day in Provence

.

After the procession we will return to our hotel to relax and begin to pack our bags. We will have our last dinner together at Côté Jardin and afterward pray a Chaplet to Saint Mary Magdalene before we go to bed.

.

DAY 7—Monday, July 23rd
Marseille Airport

Early morning transport to Marseille Airport.

May you receive many blessings along the way . . . .