This nine day Novena to Saint Mary Magdalene comes to you directly from the South of France, Mary Magdalene country. La Sainte-Baume, which means “holy cave” in Provençal dialect, is the name of the Cave where Mary Magdalene spent the last thirty years of her life. The entrance to this Cave is the high arch below the tree in the center of this photo. Inside is where we intend to be on her Feast Day – July 22, 2013.
Véronique Flayol and I are here anxiously awaiting the arrival of the pilgrims who will come on the first 10-Day Novena Tour of PROVENCE to Saint Mary Magdalene. They arrive tomorrow at Marseille Airport where we will greet them and all board a tour bus that transports us to our home for 10 days—the Hôtellerie-de-la-Sainte-Baume. The hôtellerie is run by the Dominicans and just below the forest which leads up the mountain to the Cave. The Dominicans have been guardians of Saint Mary Magdalene’s relics since 1295 and she is Co-patroness of their Order of Preachers. Their General Chapter begins this year on July 22nd in Trogir, Croatia. The Master of the Order, Fr. Bruno Cadoré (who lives in Rome), has appealed for prayers for the success of the Chapter, therefore we will add it to our special intentions during this Novena. Perhaps this photo I received last night from Alexandra Preston (who is on a mini vacation with my daughter Jenny) in Split, Croatia (30 minutes from Trogir), is a sign of Mary Magdalene’s presence in Croatia to welcome the Dominicans for their 17 day General Chapter.
Marija Magdalena is Mary Magdalene in Croatian.
Our Novena Tour will focus on the life of Mary Magdalene after the Resurrection and on her companions who sailed from Palestine to Gaul (now France) in 47 AD and ended up converting all of what is now Provence. We will take day trips in a deluxe motor coach to many towns in Provence where Mary Magdalene and her companions lived, preached and died 2000 years ago.
Along the way we will discover the typical Green Provence landscape, crossing authentic and charming Provençal villages, meet a local producer of olive oil and tapenade, and stop at Four des Navettes who for 200 years have been making the specialty “Navette,” a hard biscuit in the shape of a boat, flavored with orange blossom. We’ll dine at Le Provençal, an authentic Provençal restaurant in the lovely fishing village of Sanary-sur-Mer and visit the house of Marius Fabre who has been making soap for over 100 years. We’ll dine at Le Café Van Gogh in Arles, which is the restaurant Vincent van Gogh painted in 1888 entitled Le café de nuit, and see other subjects of his art in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer and that of Paul Cézanne in Aix-en-Provence. We’ll also discuss a modern artist, Sharon Furner, who has spent time in Provence and captured the essence of Provence in many beautiful oil paintings. We’ll go to the fabulous Market in Aix-en-Provence and visit a workshop where they make Santons de Provence. We will have a special day in the area of Cotignac where in 1519 Our Lady appeared in the fields to Jean de la Baume, and in 1660 St. Joseph appeared to a shepherd named Gaspard Ricard.
Each day we will pray our Novena to Saint Mary Magdalene and invite you to join us in spirit and in prayer. The Novena prayer was written by Fr. Thomas Michelet, OP from La Sainte-Baume. Novena prayers and Gospel readings for the day will be at the end of each daily post for you to follow along. Saint Mary Magdalene is a powerful intercessor so take extra care in being specific about your special intentions for the Novena. We will be carrying a handful of special intentions and prayer requests up to her Cave on Monday, July 22, 2013, and leave them near her beautiful statue behind the main altar.
Many blessings to you all…
Love in MADO,
Paula Lawlor in Cannes