Saintes Maries de la Mer : starting of Christianism in Provence
SAINTES-MARIES-DE-LA-MER: at the source of Christianity in Provence.
This small fishing village in the Camargue, bordering the Mediterranean and near the mouth of the Petit Rhône, is today known in the enterely world for its ancient pilgrimages that commemorate the arrival in this place of followers of Christ, persecuted and hunted from Palestine.
The pilgrimages of May 24th and 25th and October 22nd honor Marie Salome, Marie Jacobé and their servant Sara, patroness of the Gypsies, who lived and died here and whose relics are preserved in the Romanesque church.
Their younger companions went to evangelize Provence : Maximin went to Aix, where he will be the first bishop, Mary Magdalene retired to a cave in the Sainte Baume Massif, Lazare became the first bishop of Marseilles and Marthe evangelized Tarascon where she subdued a terrible monster : the Tarasque.
The village has become a seaside resort frequented by many tourists who like to attend the many local festivals : Camargue races, horse festival and especially the magnificent Festo Vierginenco, created by Fréderic Mistral, where the girls who wear for the first time the ribbon d'Arlésienne, commit themselves to pass on their passion for the traditional costume so that it never falls into oblivion.
The small museum Folco de Baroncelli worth a visit : dedicated to the memory of the famous founder of Nación Gardiano, (it is the objective to defend and maintain the Camargue traditions), it presents the history and the local fauna, portraits of characters who stayed in Les Saintes : Buffalo Bill and Vincent Van Gogh.