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Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, Camargue, France

 Posted by , February 03, 2008 at 07:23:21 :: France

Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer (lit. "Saint Marys of the Sea") is the main town of the Camargue in the south of France. It is a commune of the Bouches-du-Rhône département, by the Mediterranean Sea. Population: 2,478 (50,000+ during the summer holidays). It has a land area of 374.61 km² (144.64 sq mi), the second-largest area of all communes in Metropolitan France, smaller only than that of neighboring Arles.

Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer was a fishing village, built on an island in the heart of the Camargue, where the Petit Rhône joins the sea. The original village was grouped around the Notre-Dame-de-la-Mer church, spreading out as it grew.

Flamants roses dans les marrais et cabane de gardian, Camargue

The Provençal Legend:
Around the year 40, a boat was launched from Jerusalem, without sail, oars or supplies, and drifted across the Mediterranean until it drifted ashore at this site. The refugees in the boat were: Mary Jacobe, the mother of James and the sister of the Virgin; Mary Salome, the mother of the apostles James Major and John; Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary Magdalene and Martha; St Maximinus; Cedonius, who was born blind and cured and Sarah, the servant of the two Marys.

After landing safely, the group built a small oratory to the Virgin. The disciples wandered off their separate ways, Mary Magdalene went to Ste-Baume (map 06e), and Martha went to Tarascon. Marie Salome, Marie Jacobe and Sarah remained in the Camargue, and were later buried in the oratory. The tomb of these three saints became a cult object, and has been the attraction of pilgrimages for the past nineteen centuries. They were reburied beneath the chancel during the Barbarian invasions, and then removed and enshrined in 1448 by Good King René.

Cavaliers andalous défilant dans les rue du village des Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer (サント=マリー=ド=ラ=メール) en Camargue (カマルグ)

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