I have a special devotion to Saint Mary Magdalene from a very young age.
Deeply attached to my Provencal roots, I am involved since several years as a secretary of the Association Santo Madaleno which works for the defense and maintenance of Provençal traditions and the cult of St. Mary Magdalene, Holy Patroness of Provence. We are in charge to organize the traditional and religious feast of Saint Mary Magdalene in Saint Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume.
I am particularly keen to perpetuate the tradition of pilgrimages in Provence along the paths frequented for centuries by numerous famous and anonymous pilgrims.
We present three holy places in Provence: the Mary Magdalene’s grotto in the Sainte Baume mountain and the Royal Basilica of St. Maximin, the sanctuary of Our Lady of Graces in Cotignac and St Joseph Monastery and the village of Saintes Maries de la Mer, in Camargue, where began the evangelization of Provence.
I also designed two other spiritual journeys realizable in one week or more, focused on the first evangelization of Provence and on the Divine Feminine.
Discovery of the Sainte Baume range, a famous Christian pilgrimage destination and one of the finest belvedere in Provence.
This important massif which name comes from “baumo” which means in local old language “cave”, is closely linked to Mary Magdalene‘s story.
Driven out of Palestine during the first Christian persecutions, she landed in the Saintes Maries de la Mer. From there, she began her evangelism mission through Provence toward Saint Maximin and spent the rest of her life in penitence in the cave in the Sainte Baume, which has made this place famous from ages for all the Christians.
You will reach the cave by the King footstep (45 minutes walk) through the once sacred forest of the druids, full of rare and unique plant species in Southern Europe. From its cliff top location, the view is absolutely magnificent. You could attend the mass in the grotto with the Dominican Priests and after share your meal with other pilgrims at the Hotellerie of la Sainte Baume.
On the way back, visit of the Basilica in Saint Maximin, masterpiece of gothic art, where Mary Magdalene's relics are kept in the crypt.
Oldest of the three Cistercian sisters of Provence, the Thoronet abbey is a jewel of the Romanesque art.
Nestled in a middle of an oak forest, it provides a stark beauty conform to St Benoit’s monastic ideal.
Its extreme sobriety, the purity of its lines and the simplicity of the volumes make the abbey a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture.
In the afternoon, in the village of Cotignac (unique place in the world where the whole Holy family appeared), you could discover the sanctuary where Our Lady appeared to Jean de la Baume on Mount Verdaille in 1519. Mary invited to come in procession to receive the graces she wants to give here.
A century later, in 1660, St. Joseph was manifested on Mount Bessillon. He appeared to a shepherd, Gaspard Ricard who was desperately thirsty while tending his flock. Gaspard saw a man on a rock that said, "I am Joseph, lift this rock and you will drink." Gaspard easily removed the heavy rock alone and found a spring and drank from it. Living water is still a source of blessings.
Many people who received the graces (especially in the gift of life) came in these places. Among them, an illustrate pilgrim, King Louis XIV, came to thank Our Lady of Cotignac for his birth.
The town of Saintes Marie de la Mer is the place where landed the boat without sail and oars carrying Mary Magdalene, Martha, her sister, Lazarus, her brother, Maximin, the Saints Marie Jacobe and Salome and their fellow sufferers, driven out of Palestine after the death of Christ.
This tour allows you to discover places where lie the relics of Saints Mary Jacobe and Mary Salome and their servant, Sarah, the Black Madonna. The church of Saintes Marie de la Mer welcomes every year in May the community of Gypsies who come to pay tribute to Sara, their patron saint. The Two Holy Mary, Jacobe and Salome, whose relics, discovered by King Rene in 1448 and based in the church, are celebrated in May but also in October.
The morning will be spent visiting the church and the city.
In the afternoon you will be driven to Tarascon. 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 with the chapel housing 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: many mansions, the castle of King René, the lair of the famous monster “Tarasque”, the Franciscan monastery and space "Tartarin of Tarascon. "
The Provencal Tradition tells the arrival in Provence of a boat, on a beach of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer aboard which were the close companions of Jesus, thrown away of Palestine.
Among them appeared the most faithful of his followers, among whom Marie-Madeleine, first witness of the resurrection of the Christ, Lazarus her brother, Martha, her sister, Maximin, Marie Salomé and Marie Jacobé. Having produced thanks to the Lord, each of them left through Provence to convert the Pagans and teach them the Gospel of resuscitated Jesus. Only Marie Salomé and Marie Jacobé, too old, will remain on-the-spot with Sara, their servant.
Lazarus was the first bishop of Marseille, Maximin that of Aix-en-Provence, Martha went North and converted the inhabitants of the region of Tarascon and Marie Madeleine, having preached in various places, withdrew to Saint Baume, in prayer.
This exceptional pilgrimage of 6 days invites you to follow the steps of the first founders of the Church in France.
Also called Mary of Magdala (a small Galilean town north of Jerusalem), she was at the same time, teacher, healer, mystic, divine feminine archetype, apostle, and beloved companion of Jesus of Nazareth. First witness of the resurrection of Christ, she was eventually maligned by the church as a sinner and prostitute, but her legend has always maintained a strong following.
Our ancestors have bequeathed to us a legacy of holy places, set in a living landscape full of symbolism, power and beauty.
Follow the footsteps of Mary Magdalene, Saints and Sages, Pagans and Priests and find the spirit of past merging with the present.
In South of France
This journey begins at the tiny and picturesque fishing village of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer south of Arles in Camargue ― a wild, rustic area of salty marches, pink flamingos, bulls and white horses. According to the Tradition, Mary Magdalene and her companions landed in this town where the Rhône River meets the Mediterranean Sea. The fortified church shelters the relics of the Two Maries (Marie Jacobé and Mary Salomé) and those of Sara, often equated with the black Madonna statues in the churches of France and Patron Saint of the Gypsies.
Our next destination is the legendary grotto in the Sainte-Baume Mountain, where Magdalene retired to spend the rest of her life in prayer and contemplation after preaching and performing many miracles in the region.
A place of healing and transformation, the forest of La Sainte Baume has been a pilgrimage destination for thousands of years for crowned heads and anonymous, and continues to grow in popularity with people of all faiths and belief systems.
This ancient mystical forest of la Sainte Baume has many levels of magical beauty. First dedicated to the Mother Goddess, the Druids practiced there their worship. Lots of legends are linked to this place. We finish the day with the visit of the Basilica in Saint Maximin, built in 1295 over the spot where Charles II found Magdalene’s remains. The crypt shelters a wonderful gilded reliquary containing Magdalene’s skull.
In the Cathars region
The end of this journey takes you through the fortified medieval town of Carcassonne, a UNESCO World Heritage site that was once a Cathar fortress, and then to Rennes-le-Chateau, the fabled village of Holy Grail and the mysterious treasure, where Magdalene also allegedly preached, and nearby Rennes-les-Bains, home to rejuvenating hot springs and a majestic stone throne known as the seat of Isis, very close to the Madeleine's spring.
The last day is devoted to the discovery of the Cathars knights and the religious war through the visit of the castle of Montségur sublimely perched on towering rocky cliff sides. Thousands of Cathars were burned at the stake during the Inquisition for refusing to renounce their beliefs, rooted in direct mystical contact with the Divine.
PROVENCE PREMIUM TRANSPORT - Véronique Flayol - Mob : 00 33 (0)6 12 86 02 34 - CONTACT