Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-mer



lace of pilgrimage since centuries for the gipsies and travelling peoples in homage to Saint-Sarah (or Sara) whom they consider of their family, of their old race from Aegypt, and which was so-called a maidservant of the escort of Maries.
Fortunately, these enthusiastic people had long-lived the memory of these events, because the ecclesiastical institution made of this case only well late (starting from XVe century) and in a way too discreet, not very visible, not to say to its defending body and in spite of serious reserves...
The history is however quite beautiful, and it was mainly confirmed by the excavations undertaken since.
This history, here it is:

Little time after the crucifixion of Jesus in Palestine and the events which followed one another it, unloads in a place called "oppidum Ra" a certain number of people whose importance cannot be suspected at the time by the few fishermen and tradesmen who occupy this arm of the delta of the Rhone. However, the future will show that at the end of this arm of the river, there was the hand of God!

The Saint-Family is obliged to put at the shelter events which occur in Palestine. Risings and revolts follow one another and the disciples of Jesus are worried more and more by the partisans of the capacities in place, undoubtedly more still by the établishment judaïc pharisian than by the official Roma représentatives...
It is thus in year 42 of our era which a boat accosts bringing several people come to seek refuge in Gaules. They are named for the principal ones of them: Marie-Jacobé, Marie-Salome, Sara, Lazare (ressuscity) and Marthe her wife, and Marie-madeleine.

* (Who was this mysterious girl named Sara and introduced like their maidservant? One does not take along his "maidservant" in such a risky forwarding for a no return travel. One needs a bond much more extremely - a family bond for example - to justify than one takes along a child with oneself. It is on this assumption that Dan Brown imagined his famous novel "Da Vinci Code", and there he is not undoubtedly entirely wrong to suppose a hidden truth...)

They do not arrive in unknown country. There is since already glosses with "the oppidum Ra" and in the surroundings certain number of their Jewish fellow-citizens. This "oppidum" is indeed a fort, a fortress set up on an island formed between two arms of the Rhone, and being used as port-refuge to the Eastern tradesmen since centuries. The Egyptians, phenicians, then the Greeks, the Romans and the Jews thus maintained counters in edge of the Mediterranean, preferably in islands, easier to defend vis-a-vis with the raids of the pirates like those of the autochtones sometimes a little sharp... The mouth of the Rhone being a strategic access point for the trade towards the interior of Gaules, it has at all times thus colonized by merchants and thus also defended. There is already a small eastern colony when these refugees unload there.

By their way of life and their philosophy of love, they are not long besides in being noticed, then admired and finally revered. Lazare will finish bishop of Marseille. Maries will make vault locally and will raise themselves there a place of worship.

Some has made of this evenement different reports.
Charles de Rostang (1700) gives of it a rather calm version, telling which they "went from Jerusalem to the sea, there went up on a ship, and after a happy voyage gained Marseilles, city famous where remained Lazare and of which he became bishop".
Another chronicler, the pseudo Raban Maur (5th century), described the thing as following:
"Pushed by the East wind, they left Asia, went down by the Tyrrhenian Sea between Europe and Africa, by making various turnings. They left on the right the town of Rome and all Italy, as well as the Alps which, on the basis of the gulf of Genoa and from the sea of Gaules, extended towards the East... Lastly, they approached fortunately on the line in the Viennese, province of Gaules, near the town of Marseille, in a place where the Rhone is thrown in the sea."

So indeed they arrived to Marseille, the travellers and their company passed by the stopovers of Curry, Croix-Sainte, and Fos, before stopping with the oppidum Ra, become official stopover since imperator Auguste.

But some other sources dramatize the relation of this voyage. The breviary of the diocese of Aix, at the feastday of holy the Marie-Jacobé and Marie-Salome (on May 25), tells the thing as follows:
"A short persecution occurred at the Jews. With Marthe, Marie-madeleine, Lazare, Maximin and much of others, they Saintes-Maries were seized and embarked in a ship without veil nor oar.The throw towards the open sea thus, it was to dedicate them to an unquestionable shipwreck; but the ship, guided by God, approached fortunately the shore of Provence."

If the result is the same at the end of the voyage, the starting conditions are definitely divergent. Here, these people did not start from their full liking.

Which is the good version? Difficult to say it, but Guesnay, in its "Life of Sainte-Madeleine" (1657) an approach gives us which would confirm the second, while bringing to the very old tradition of the "procession of the beach" of the Saint-Maries-of-the-Sea, in a long sentence, the following explanation:
"At the village of Three-Maries, in the Camargue, the people has the habit on the Thursday-Saint, to go on the edge of the sea and prosterner to knees, offering its prayers to God, not for those which are on the sea, because at the other coasts of Provence and Italy, there would be more the occasion to make the similar one since the sea is more stormy there, but this devotion very particular at this village is practised, so that it is said, by tradition and memory that the boat who carried the Madeleine and the remainder of the disciples reported on the Jews to the thank you of the waves, without oars, nor veils, approached towards a rock, which at this hour is covered with the sea, where they drew up a vault with the Mother of God that the Christians named after Our-injury of Ratis, i.e. Our-injury of the boat. And in front of the vault an iron cross that the plungers which are thrown in the sea find still today very whole and right, beside the rock on which the vault was built."

In fact, it is probably there, beside Saint-Ferréol, that the oppidum Ra was. The sea, in our century, still rejects from time to time on the shore some stones of construction, old tiles, carved remains, fragments of potteries, or greek, roman, and carthaginians coins. Certain fishermen would have even seen by calm sea of the tomb stones*. It is obvious that this place was extremely inhabited two millenia ago, when the members of our Sainte-Famille unloaded.

*(2000 years ago, the sea was then more than two meters below the current level)

Probably that a certain number of children accompanied them, as well as disciples. Another tradition also forwards to Languedoc Joseph d' Arimathie, which is plausible since all the family of Béthanie * would be thus joined together, but it is more probable than Joseph was arrived in Gaule separately, probably before, about 33 or 34, and than he had prepared their arrival there.

* beth-Annie = literally "the house of Annie", Saint-Anna being the grandmother of Jesus, "Bethanie" is nothing else than the HOUSE OF FAMILY.
This basic observation involves another of them: indeed, Anne being the mother of Marie was the grandmother of Jesus, but she was also... from CELTIC ORIGIN!

The veneration she is the object in Brittany at Sainte-Anne-d'Auray, is very meaning on this subject.
However, number of authors - and not of least - allot the true paternity of Jesus to a certain Judas of Gamala also said "Judas-le-Gaulonite" (what it means : "Judas-the-Gallic") who made speak about him as a chief of the insurrectionists whom one called the Zealotes, connects armed with the movement of resistance against the Roman occupation making during with the branch political and religious of essenian obedience directed by Jesus (the "Saver", the Meshiah) who would return to the Jewish people his pride and his freedom...
This assumption, perfectly heretic I agree on it, would give to the family of Jesus at least ONE if not TWO good reasons to take refuge in Gaules, at the "gentils" (from Latin "gentilis" = "of good race"!... CQFD )

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This translation was made by a "translation on line" site. Its far to be perfect. If anyone wants to translate in a better way (see the french version as model), welcome ! Thanks to contact me.