How the Novena Tour came to be… Two women from different parts of the world felt closely connected to Saint Mary Magdalene. Each one had designed this tour in their mind several years ago, but it remained only a dream. Each one knew of the other but had never spoken. It wasn’t until October 19, 2012, in front of the Basilica of Saint Mary Magdalene at Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume, that they met and spoke for the first time. And it was that day that they both realized they could finally fulfill their dream of the tour, because they had found each other. They both believe it was “MADO” who put them together.
Day 1 — Saturday, July 20, 2013
Tour bus transport from Marseille Airport to the Hôtellerie-de-la-Sainte-Baume, which is just below the forest that leads to La Sainte-Baume, the Cave of Saint Mary Magdalene. This hôtellerie, which is run by the Dominicans, will be our home for the next ten days. For those who arrive early enough, lunch will be served in the hôtellerie restaurant. After lunch we will meet and have a little tour of the hôtellerie, chapel, bookshop, cemetery and the grounds. Later we’ll meet under the huge oak tree behind the hôtellerie and together we will begin our Novena to Saint Mary Magdalene. We will have dinner at the hôtellerie restaurant and then early to bed.
Novena to Saint Mary Magdalene — Day 1
Day 2 — Sunday, July 21, 2013
Tour bus to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, the place where the boat carrying Mary Magdalene and her companions landed in 47 AD. We’ll go to Mass at the parish church where St. Mary Salome and St. Mary Jacobe lived (in the crypt) and see their relics along with those of St. Sara. We’ll dine at Brasserie Le Belvédère by the sea and then ride up the Rhône in a boat to get a nice view of the Camargue. In June 1888, Van Gogh took a 30-mile stagecoach ride from Arles to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer for a week long trip to recover from health problems. He made paintings of the seaside, of fishing boats, and of the village that you may know. We will have time to walk around the small fishing village before the tour bus takes us back to the hôtellerie for dinner.
Novena to Saint Mary Magdalene — Day 2
Day 3 — Monday, July 22, 2013 — Feast Day of Saint Mary Magdalene
We will climb the mountain through the forest to the Cave of Saint Mary Magdalene in a special Feast Day Procession led by the Dominican priests who will carry the relics (her tibia & hair) with them. In 1295 Pope Boniface VIII entrusted the Dominican Order with the care of the relics and the Dominicans took Saint Mary Magdalene as co-patroness of their Order. The Dominicans have guarded these relics ever since. After Mass in the Cave we will climb to the top to see Chapel St. Pilon where Mary Magdalene was carried by angels. Later in the day the Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist will speak to us about “Adoration of the Most Holy Eucharist.”
Novena to Saint Mary Magdalene — Day 3
Day 4 — Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Tour bus will take us to the fabulous Market in Aix-en-Provence. We will visit Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur, which was built in the twelfth century on the site of an ancient temple dedicated to the sun god, Apollo. St. Maximin and St. Mary Magdalene erected a small chapel on this site dedicated to Jesus Christ (Saint-Sauveur). You will see the sarcophagus of St. Mitre and the right foot of St. André. The baptistry in the Cathédrale, built in the fourth or fifth century, is one of the oldest in France. Then we will see L’Église de la Madeleine where Paul Cézanne was baptized. You will have several hours on your own to explore the old town of Aix and to stop and have lunch. In the afternoon we will go to a workshop where they make Santons de Provence, clay figurines of the Nativity scene and the inhabitants of Provençal villages. Their origins go back to the first representation of the Nativity by St. Francis of Assisi when he recreated the first “live” Nativity using real people and figurines.
Novena to Saint Mary Magdalene — Day 4
Day 5 — Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Drive to Marseille where we will have a panoramic view of the city and the port from Basilique Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde. Visit Abbaye de Saint-Victor where St. Lazarus preached and heard confessions and stop at Four des Navettes—for 200 years they have been making the specialty “Navette,” a hard biscuit in the shape of a boat, flavored with orange blossom. We’ll take a ferry to old Marseille and dine at Au Vieux Clocher, then see Place de Lenche where Lazarus was imprisoned and beheaded, and Place des Treize Cantons where Mary Magdalene first preached in Marseille. We will see Lazarus’ skull at Cathédrale Sainte-Marie-Majeure. Then drive to L’Église des Aygalades where we’ll see the most beautiful statue of Mary Magdalene in the crypt. We are invited to have dinner with the Dominican Nuns (cloistered) at St.-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume for a very special celebration.
Novena to Saint Mary Magdalene — Day 5
Day 6 — Thursday, July 25, 2013
Visit Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine at St.-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume where you will see the relics of St. Mary Magdalene (her skull), St. Maximin and St. Dominique. The sarcophagus of St. Cedonius and St. Marcelle are in the crypt. Fr. Florian Racine is the pastor and also founder of Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist. One of the missionaries will speak to us about “Mary Magdalene and the Most Holy Eucharist.” Drive to Sanary-sur-Mer to dine at Le Provençal—authentic provincial cuisine, and enjoy the fishing village and the sea. We’ll drive back for the official opening of the traditional feasts at the square in front of the Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine.
Novena to Saint Mary Magdalene — Day 6
Day 7 — Friday, July 26, 2013
Today is a day for contemplation, prayer and solitude—nothing in particular is planned. We will share all three meals at the hôtellerie restaurant. You may want to spend the day in the Chapel of Saint Mary Magdalene, joining the Dominicans in their seven daily prayers—Matines, Laudes, Mass, Eucharist, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Vespers and Complines. Or you could walk the grounds of the hôtellerie and visit the cemetery and the lower forest. You may want to walk to the Grotte des Oeufs (Cave of Eggs), a place of worship of fertility which included the Artemis of Ephesus, or want to go back up to La Sainte-Baume to Mary Magdalene’s Cave for a more quiet, personal visit with her…
Novena to Saint Mary Magdalene — Day 7
Day 8 — Saturday, July 27, 2013
You will have the opportunity to discover the typical Green Provence landscape, crossing authentic and charming Provençal villages and meet a local producer of olive oil. In Pontevès we will see the ruins of the feudal château of the Pontevès family. We’ll visit and dine at Notre-Dame de Grâces in Cotignac, which is the place where in 1519 Our Lady appeared in the fields to Jean de la Baume. After lunch we will have a small celebration. Then we will stop at Monastère de St. Joseph in Bessillon, where in 1660 St. Joseph appeared to a shepherd named Gaspard Ricard who was desperately thirsty while tending his flock. Gaspard saw a man on a rock that twice said, “I am Joseph, lift this rock and you will drink.” Gaspard easily removed the rock and found a spring and drank from it. It would have taken a dozen men to remove the rock that Gaspard had raised alone.
Novena to Saint Mary Magdalene — Day 8
Day 9 — Sunday, July 28, 2013 — Saint Mary Magdalene—Feast Day Mass
At 8 am we arrive at Hôtel de Ville in Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume for un café and take part in the welcoming for the feast and the procession into the Basilique for the 10:30 am Mass. After Mass we will celebrate with the people of the town in front of the Basilique, then have lunch in the town. We’ll return to the Basilique for a talk on the “Life of Saint Mary Magdalene” (in French) and then follow the procession of Saint Mary Magdalene and the Saints of Provence through the streets of the town.
Novena to Saint Mary Magdalene — Day 9
Day 10 — Monday, July 29th — Feast Day of Saint Martha
Drive to Tarascon and begin our tour at the statue of La Tarasque—according to legend, St. Martha was able to tame this beast that lived by the Rhône and had been terrorizing the people. Holy water and a crucifix were her only weapons. Then we’ll visit Collégiale Sainte-Marthe where the remains of Saint Martha are kept. Across the street is King René d’Anjou’s castle. We’ll drive to Arles and have lunch at Le Café Van Gogh (Vincent Van Gogh painted the café in 1888). And we’ll visit the Primatiale Saint-Trophime just around the corner. We’ll drive to Salon-de-Provence where both houses of Marius Fabre and Rampal Latour have been making soap for over 100 years. We’ll stop in their soap shop which will be a nice place to purchase gifts to take home.
Day 11 — Tuesday, July 30th — Tour bus transport to Marseille Airport as needed.
Our Novena Tour has come to an end. We are sure you have gotten to know Saint Mary Magdalene in a very special way, and hope you have also enjoyed the Saints and traditions of Provence.