Today Pascale, our chauffeur or tour bus driver, took us to the lively city of Aix-en-Provence, about a one and a quarter hour drive from the hôtellerie. Its history and numerous monuments accumulated over the centuries have made Aix-en-Provence a prestigious and incomparable town of art and culture, with beautiful architecture, fine museums, sunny climate, thermal springs, colorful open-air markets, beautiful fountains and an International Music Festival. The old Royal city has become a preferred place to stay as well as a noted University town, with a relaxed and gentle way of life.
It is Tuesday and we planned this day around the wonderful Tuesday Market in Aix-en-Provence.
Strolling down the main thoroughfare of the city, the Cours Mirabeau, a wide shady avenue lined with great plane trees, joins the large Rotonde Fountain to the Place Forbin. The fountains in the middle of the road remind us of the origin of the name “Aix”—a watering place.
Our first stop was at Librarie Le Blason, a fabulous little bookstore I had discovered last October. Rita Fidone, the owner, was expecting our visit and had called upon a well-know author, Yves Bridonneau, who came to meet us in her shop. Yves, now living in Aix, had lived in Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume for a number of years prior and written books about Mary Magdalene and the Basilique Sainte Marie-Madeleine. We walked around the corner together to Cathédrale-Saint-Sauveur where he would be our personal guide.
Recent excavations on the site of Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur have brought to light traces of a basilica with a baptistry dating back to the IV or V century AD, which in turn was built on Gallo-Roman ruins.
Our group gathered near the Sainte-Chapelle or holy chapel to hear Yves Bridonneau’s presentation.
Oratoire du Sauveur ou Sainte Chapelle
This is the floor of the chapel that Mary Magdalene and Maximin dedicated to Jesus Christ in the first century. It was built on an ancient Roman temple. Maximin became the first bishop of Aix and Mary Magdalene later retreated to La Sainte-Baume.
Nearby is Chapelle Sainte-Madeleine, a chapel dedicated to Saint Mary Magdalene, which still contains the two original pillars of the Sainte Chapelle.
Stained glass window of the Cathérale with Saint Mary Magdalene and her alabaster jar and the skull, Saint Maximin as bishop of Aix, and Saint Martha with her holy water and La Tarasque on a leash.
We had the distinct privilege of being invited into the Sacristy – a room that is rarely unlocked and guarded carefully by the sacristan. I had seen in a book of relics that this sacristy contained the foot of Saint Andrew. Last October I inquired if our Novena Tour group could perhaps view the relic. The sacristan, whose mother’s name was MADO, was more than happy to oblige us once he heard that our Novena Tour was to Saint Mary Magdalene.
So here is a photo of a relic of one of the apostles:
Le pied de St. André
…. and the writing on top of the reliquary.
After the visit of the Cathédrale we split into smaller groups and went to the fabulous Market and then to a restaurant of our own choosing.
Market day Aix-en-Provence by Sharon Furner
SHARON FURNER is one of the four artists we are studying, as she and the others had a love affair with Provence. I got in touch with Sharon when I found her Market Day painting on-line and asked permission to use it in the Novena Tour brochure. Sharon kindly agreed and now we have become good friends. She is a very sweet woman, a great artist and a wonderful human being. I love her work so much that I included it in a book I put together on the four artists we will encounter on this Novena Tour along with MONTENARD, VAN GOGH, and CÉZANNE—Love Affairs with PROVENCE is to be used as a visual guide for our tour. More of Sharon’s paintings can be viewed on her website: sharonfurner.com
Some pastries are works of art in Aix-en-Provence.
Camilla and I had our lunch at Les Deux Garçons, which was recommended by my friend Mary. It is centrally located at 53 bis Cours Mirabeau under the great plane trees with a view of the Tuesday Market which stretched the length of the boulevard.
Just next door, at 55 Cours Mirabeau, is a building which used to house the Cézanne & Coupin Hat Shop, a shop owned by artist Paul Cézanne’s father. When Paul Cézanne was born he lived here – see sign in left corner of photo. Paul’s father made a small fortune making hats and later opened a bank in Aix-en-Provence.
Paul Cézanne—self portrait
Aix-en-Provence was the home of Paul Cézanne. In Aix he was born, in Aix he was baptized, in Aix he was schooled, in Aix he lived most of his life and in Aix he died.
The pond of Jas de Bouffan – Cézanne’s home by Paul Cézanne
Pascale drove us by Jas de Bouffan for a quick look. What a lovely home Cézanne had.
Montagne Sainte-Victoire by Paul Cézanne
Sainte-Victoire was a mountain Cézanne could see from his home. He loved Sainte-Victoire and painted it 169 different times during his life, each from a different perspective.
Cézanne’s atelier by Sharon Furner
Sharon Furner, years ago in Aix…. “We spent one day exploring Cézanne’s Aix, Provence atelier and surrounding countryside. It was a beautiful, clear, sunny day casting purple reflections.”
We left the center city and drove to Santons Fouque, a workshop in Aix where the Fouque family have been making Santons de Provence for four generations. Santons are 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 real animals.
Four generations of the FOUQUE family making SANTONS de PROVENCE
Mireille Fouque gave us a tour of the Santons Fouque workshop, explaining the process they go through to make the santons, from forming the body parts in a mold out of clay, adding details, the long drying time before baking, and the meticulous painting of the finished product. If I had known about Santons Fouque when I was twenty, and working as an au pair in Toulon, I would have applied to work there. I was painting in oil at the time, but I have always loved meticulous works of art.
Saint Francis of Assisi is the santon in the middle.
Santons are made in many different sizes.
Norma, Marilyn, Paule (Elizabeth’s aunt from Toulon who joined us for the day), Peggy and Véronique had a moment to relax in the shade in the garden of Santons Fouque. What a lovely painting that would make with all the beautiful bright colors!
We then boarded our bus and Pascale drove us back to the hôtellerie.
Pascale (our driver), Camilla and Marilyn are having a good laugh at Brasserie La Terrasse next door to the hôtellerie before we all go in for dinner. Getting back with a little time before dinner to relax together is quite nice.
Steven and Sue (both from Chicago but met for the first time here at La Sainte-Baume) are enjoying some wine…. …or at least Steven is.
A SIDE NOTE: DAY 4 – Steven’s luggage has still not arrived! The last we heard from Air France was that it finally made it from Venice to Marseille Airport, but they wanted us to come and pick it up! Véronique was very insistent that it was THEIR job to bring it to us. I can’t imagine they will find us. Steven is happy just the same with Norbert’s shirt and Elizabeth’s razor.
Sweet Roberta, who has been ever so generous with her International cell phone, is trying to reach Rose’s U.S. banks to cancel her credit cards because unfortunately, Rose was pick-pocketed in Aix just as we left the Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur by some very young children who are trained to do just that. An outside observer told us he saw three young children with maps stretched out wide moving closer to where Rose was standing and then open the zipper of her bag, take out her wallet and run away. This was now a warning for all of us to be very careful. By the late afternoon Rose was very calm and at peace, even though this was quite traumatic for her. I’m sure she prayed her rosary after it happened, as she is accustomed to praying the rosary. That is what prayer can do for all of us in difficult times.
After dinner we joined together behind the hôtellerie to pray our Novena to Saint Mary Magdalene facing the Cave.
Novena to Saint Mary Magdalene—Day 4
Opening Prayer—Saint Mary Magdalene, you who were pardoned by Jesus, you who greatly loved; show us the way to true conversion and purity of heart. With love you followed Jesus to serve him; teach us to freely offer our lives for our brothers and sisters. You stood at the cross of Jesus with Mary and John. Obtain the grace of faith and hope in our sufferings. On Easter morning, you received from Jesus the mission of announcing the resurrection to His disciples. Help me to believe that life is stronger than death, that love triumphs over all. Dearest Saint Mary Magdalene, please intercede on behalf of my special intention (recite your special intention here). Through your intercession, I trust in the Lord, AMEN.
Gospel of John 11:1-45—The Death of Lazarus
1 Now there was a certain man sick, named Lazarus, of Bethania, of the town of Mary and Martha her sister. 2 (And Mary was she that anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair: whose brother Lazarus was sick.) 3 His sisters therefore sent to him, saying: Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. 4 And Jesus hearing it, said to them: This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God: that the Son of God may be glorified by it. 5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister Mary, and Lazarus. 6 When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he still remained in the same place two days. 7 Then after that, he said to his disciples: Let us go into Judea again. 8 The disciples say to him: Rabbi, the Jews but now sought to stone thee: and goest thou thither again? 9 Jesus answered: Are there not twelve hours of the day? If a man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world: 10 But if he walk in the night, he stumbleth, because the light is not in him. 11 These things he said; and after that he said to them: Lazarus our friend sleepeth; but I go that I may awake him out of sleep. 12 His disciples therefore said: Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. 13 But Jesus spoke of his death; and they thought that he spoke of the repose of sleep. 14 Then therefore Jesus said to them plainly: Lazarus is dead. 5 And I am glad, for your sakes, that I was not there, that you may believe: but let us go to him. 16 Thomas therefore, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples: Let us also go, that we may die with him.
Jesus Comforts the Sisters of Lazarus
17 Jesus therefore came, and found that he had been four days already in the grave. 18 (Now Bethania was near Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off.) 19 And many of the Jews were come to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. 20 Martha therefore, as soon as she heard that Jesus had come, went to meet him: but Mary sat at home. 21 Martha therefore said to Jesus: Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 22 But now also I know that whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. 23 Jesus saith to her: Thy brother shall rise again. 24 Martha saith to him: I know that he shall rise again, in the resurrection at the last day. 25 Jesus said to her: I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, although he be dead, shall live: 26 And every one that liveth, and believeth in me, shall not die for ever. Believest thou this? 27 She saith to him: Yea, Lord, I have believed that thou art Christ the Son of the living God, who art come into this world. 28 And when she had said these things, she went, and called her sister Mary secretly, saying: The master is come, and calleth for thee. 29 She, as soon as she heard this, riseth quickly, and cometh to him. 30 For Jesus was not yet come into the town: but he was still in that place where Martha had met him. 31 The Jews therefore, who were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary that she rose up speedily and went out, followed her, saying: She goeth to the grave to weep there. 32 When Mary therefore was come where Jesus was, seeing him, she fell down at his feet, and saith to him: Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 33 Jesus, therefore, when he saw her weeping, and the Jews that were come with her, weeping, groaned in the spirit, and troubled himself, 34 And said: Where have you laid him? They say to him: Lord, come and see. 35 And Jesus wept. 36 The Jews therefore said: Behold how he loved him. 37 But some of them said: Could not he that opened the eyes of the man born blind, have caused that this man should not die?
Jesus Raises Lazarus From the Dead
38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself, cometh to the sepulchre. Now it was a cave; and a stone was laid over it. 39 Jesus saith: Take away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith to him: Lord, by this time he stinketh, for he is now of four days. 40 Jesus saith to her: Did not I say to thee, that if thou believe, thou shalt see the glory of God? 41 They took therefore the stone away. And Jesus lifting up his eyes said: Father, I give thee thanks that thou hast heard me. 42 And I knew that thou hearest me always; but because of the people who stand about have I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. 43 When he had said these things, he cried with a loud voice: Lazarus, come forth. 44 And presently he that had been dead came forth, bound feet and hands with winding bands; and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus said to them: Loose him, and let him go.
The Plot to Kill Jesus
45 Many therefore of the Jews, who were come to Mary and Martha, and had seen the things that Jesus did, believed in him.
Novena Prayer Day 4—After the death of Lazarus, Martha is the first to meet Jesus and speaks with him. In his dialogue with her, Jesus leads her to be the first to acknowledge in faith that he is the Messiah, able to give life to the dead and to her brother, Lazarus. However, in front the tomb, she doubts: ‘There will be a stench. He has already been in the tomb four days…’ Mary does not challenge Jesus: she simply throws herself at the his feet and weeps. This is no longer the gesture of a sinful woman, but a gesture of intercession. Rather than the discussions of Martha, it is these tears which touches Jesus, which touches the heart of God and obtains the resurrection for Lazarus. This faith is not lip service, but a faith of action, which throws itself totally before God. By the perfume of her tears, Mary obtains life from death “which has a stench…” She is prostrate on the soil from which the Creator had drawn Adam, and from which the “new Adam” would raise the people broken by sin. The One who unbound Lazarus of his bindings will himself be wrapped in bindings, to break the chains of those dead because of sin, and to set them free. Martha and Mary both approach the Lord with the same words, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” But the gestures are different. The reactions are different. Martha questions, she confronts Jesus with the realities that she perceives. Isn’t that what we all do so often. We ought to pray more, but … there is the phone, there are appointments, there is a soccer game, there is this and that. We ought give Jesus more room in our lives … but there is work, family, job, recreation. There are all these things. Martha’s gesture and reaction is to let Jesus know, to inform him of what she thinks is the reality of the situation. We too feel the need to let Jesus know what is really important, what the conditions are that keep us from letting Jesus into our lives. We need to choose to be open to what the Lord has to say to us.
Closing Prayer—God of mercy, you who received the tears of Saint Mary Magdalene for her brother, Lazarus, lead us to recognize in your Son, who comes to save the world by offering his life to conquer our death, to live freely and confidently, in this world in your love and in your service. Through Christ our Lord, AMEN!
Jesus Raises Lazarus