2020 will truly remain a very special year.
This year, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Mary Magdalene Festival was very unusual. Indeed, this is the first time that we don’t respect the guidelines established by Charles II in the 13th century, after the discovery of the relics.
With my friends of Santo Madaleno Association we did our best to maintain as much as possible our centuries-old traditions. However, we have not been allowed to organize the processions and parades for which this festival is famous and has attracted hundreds of pilgrims every year for centuries.
In this difficult context, the pilgrimage “Festivities of Saint Mary Magdalene” could not take place. It was very difficult and frustrating for me not to be able to share these very emotional moments. Also, I invite you virtually relive the highlights of the week over July 22.
– Friday July 17: Release of the relics from the crypt and preparation of the basilica for the Festivities.
To begin Mary Magdalene Festival is always a great time for us. There is a lot of excitement. We are happy to find back Magdalene after one year. We erect a magnificent altar for her in the choir of the basilica (it’s a woman’s affair!).While men hoist her on this altar to expose her to the devotion of the faithful.
However, we must remain very careful and focused because, considering the weight of the reliquary (almost 400 kilos with the canopy !!), this is not an easy matter !
– Wednesday July 22: Procession to the Sainte Baume with the Dominicans of which Mary Magdalene is the Patron Saint.
This year, the cave was not accessible for security reasons. That is why the procession of the relics belonging to the Dominicans took place in the forest and mass in the field next to the Hostellerie.
– Thursday July 23: Official opening of the Festivities, on the forecourt of the basilica
My husband, following his ancestors, has the great privilege of proclaiming the opening of religious festivals. This custom dates back to Charles II. A public reader proclaimed the opening of the Feasts and invited the population to participate. First, this proclamation is in Provençal then in French. “Brave people of Saint Maximin de Provence, wonderful festivals will take place in our town in honor of St Mary Magdalene, patron saint of Saint Maximin and of Provence. You are cordially invited to participate. Be happy and filled with joy, Mary Magdalene will protect you ”
The faithful then return to the church after the reliquary to attend a celebration.
– Friday July 24: Concert of traditional Provençal music. “Melody for Magdalene”
A magnificent concert in the basilica, under the benevolent presence of Mary Magdalene in the choir. The group of young drummers led by Benjamin Tourpe brilliantly performed some traditional Provençal music to honor our Saint Patron.
Drummers are the heirs of a rich musical history that goes far beyond the boundaries of Provençal folklore.
The galoubet is a three-hole flute usually made of olive wood. It is played with one hand (the left), the other playing the Tambourine Provençal (drum). These instruments are already present in Provence in the 15th century.
– Sunday July 26: Solemn festivities in the presence of Bishop Jean Pierre Ravotti
This is the most important day of Mary Magdalene Festival. We were unable to do the traditional parade, very early in the morning in the streets of the city to honor the authorities and VIPs of Saint Maximin. The day therefore began directly with the Grand Messe Solennelle in the basilica chaired by Bishop Jean Pierre Ravotti.
Sunday afternoon, the traditional procession in the streets of the city could not take place. So, after vespers, we paid Mary Magdalene a last tribute on the square of the basilica.
– Friday July 31: Descent of the reliquary in the crypt.
Here we are. This is the end of the Festival.
With the banners unhooked, Saint Mary Magdalene has found her crypt from where she watches over us and protects us.
Despite very special Festivities this year, our attachment to our Saint remains very strong and we are always very moved when the feast ends.
Those who would like to come and attend to the Festivities on the spot, here in Provence, the program for next year is already available.
Like Charles of Anjou,
I wish you all « to be happy and full of joy under her Divine protection »