Camargue pilgrimage : the two Marys and Sara, the Gypsies’ Black Madonna
The town of Saintes Marie de la Mer is located in Camargue, on the Mediterranean coast. It is the place where, according to the Provençal tradition, landed the boat without sail and oars carrying Mary Magdalene, Martha, her sister, Lazarus, her brother, Maximin, the Saints Mary Jacobe and Salome and their fellow sufferers, driven out of Palestine after the death of Jesus.
You will discover places where lie the relics of Saints Mary Jacobe and Mary Salome and their servant, Sara, also knowned as the Black Madonna for the Gypsies. The church of Saintes Marie de la Mer welcomes every year the 24th of May the Gypsies Festival. The community of Gypsies comes from all over the world to pay tribute to Sara, their patron saint.
The Two Holy Maries, Jacobe and Salome, whose relics, discovered by King Rene in 1448 and sheltered in the church, are celebrated in May (25th) but also in October.
You will spend the morning visiting the church and the city.
Two options for the afternoon program :
Option 1 : Martha’s shrine at Tarascon
Either, you will go to Tarascon to meet Martha, Mary Magdalene ‘ sister. Early on, the city became a very famous place of pilgrimage, it occurred there many miracles. The visit begins with the Collégiale Sainte Marthe, one of the most famous sanctuaries of Provence. Its chapel houses the shrine of Saint Martha’s relics, a copy of the one offered by Louis XI. Then a stroll around the town makes you appreciate the important heritage from the past. Old mansions, the castle of King René and the lair of the famous monster “Tarasque” mastered by Martha.
Option 2 : Boat ride on the Rhone river
You’ll ride up the Rhône river in a boat to get a nice view of the Camargue. This unique landscape, part of a National Park, is comprised of an incredible array of fauna and flora.
The small salt water lakes and marshes take up 20,000 hectares of Camargue land. They constitute rest stops favored by many migratory and sedentary birds. Among them, the pink flamingo, the emblem of Camargue. Also, during the ride, you could see wild white horses and Camargue bulls.
You will have time to walk around the small fishing village, meditate by the Mediterranean sea or do a little shopping before we leave.