PROVENCE: Mary Magdalene and the Black Madonnas of Provence
MARY MAGDALENE and The BLACK MADONNAS OF PROVENCE June 17-24, 2023
I am delighted to be joining my dear friend, tour guide Veronique Flayol as a guest lecturer for an unforgettable journey as we follow in the footsteps of the "Friends of Bethany": Mary Magdalene, Lazarus and Martha. We will encounter the living myths, traditions and legacy of the companions of Jesus as we follow their footsteps from their meeting with Saint Sara at the charming seaside village of Saintes Maries de Mer to the sites of their preaching and teaching in the elegant Roman city of Aix en Provence. We will meander through the forest of Artemis up the majestic mountain of La Sainte Baume to the cave where legend claims Mary Magdalene spent the last 30 years of her life in contemplative prayer.
We will pay homage to the relics of the three siblings at their shrines in Marseille, Saint Maximin la Saint Baume and Tarascon. We will also discover the enigmatic and mysterious "Black Madonnas" of Provence at several sites, learn about their connection to pre-Christian goddesses and the esoteric traditions associated with Mary Magdalene's teachings.
This is an intimate contemplative journey for 15 people (women and couples) who wish to drink deeply of both the beauty of the historical sites and the transformative potential of the spiritual practices associated with Mary Magdalene . The trip is organized, directed and run through Magdalene Sacred Voyages. Contact Veronique directly for more information at VFLAYOL@gmail.com or see her website here.
Itinerary We will begin our journey at Saint Maximin, site of a grand Romanesque cathedral and home of Mary Magdalene's relics. Here we will have an opening ritual of prayer and meditation and a dedication of our intentions for the journey as we light candles in the crypt. A welcome dinner follows.
Saintes Maries de la Mer Traveling by air conditioned private coach, we journey to Saintes Maries de la Mer, legendary site where Mary Magdalene and her companions arrived by rudderless boat. In a ritual of our intentions for our journey, we will create a sand labyrinth together on the warm shores of the Mediterranean. After a group lunch at a charming seaside restaurant, we tour the Basilica where the relics of Mary Jacobe and Mary Salome, two of Magdalene's companions, reside. We will learn about the Festival dedicated to Saint Sara, patroness of the Gypsies and Romani peoples, and then descend into the crypt to behold this revered Black Madonna and learn Medieval pilgrim songs.
Aix and the Cathedal of Saint Saveur Here we explore the heart of Aix en Provence, touring Saint Saveur Cathedral , built around the Roman site where legend claims Mary Magdalene, Martha and Lazarus evangelized. We will encounter the Black Madonna known as "Our Lady of Hope", as we share in music and guided meditation. We will arrive on market day, and after our tour, you will have time to wander the Medieval alleys laden with flower markets, gorgeous linens, enticing cheeses and chocolates.
Tarascon In this village that was once the seat of high power for the counts of Provence, we enter into the stories of Martha, learning about her strength and courage and the symbolism behind the legend of her "taming the dragon of Tarasque" .
Marseille We travel through the bustling city of Marseille to the highest point in the city where we will take in the dazzling view of the Mediterranean before exploring the ornate Byzantine style Basilica, Notre Dame du Gard. A delicious three course lunch awaits us at the harbor below where we will will dine with a seaside view over the old port. In the afternoon, we explore the opulent Cathédrale Sainte-Marie-Majeure de Marseille which houses the relics of Saint Lazarus. We end our tour of this historic city at Abbey Saint Victor, descending into the lower church to discover the history of the first double monastery for women and men in Europe, established by John Cassian in the 5th century. We will have a moving ceremony in the crypt with the Black Madonna, known as "Our Lady of New Fire" before returning to the hotel for dinner on your own.
La Sainte Baume
We will journey high into the mountains where Mary Magdalene spent the last thirty years of her life as a hermit in contemplation. After a preparatory circle in the chapel of the hostellerie, we will enter the mystical "Forest of Silence" (dedicated to the Greek goddess Artemis for 700 years before Magdalene's arrival) and then ascend the pilgrim path walked by centuries of seekers, arriving after about an hour at the Grotto. Inside this cave, a sense of deep timelessness awaits.
Day 8 After breakfast, we will transfer you to the Marseille Airport. Please arrange your flights for the late afternoon, as we will not arrive at the airport before 12 noon.
Costs 3800€ per person Deposit: 1300 euro due within one week of registration to travel agent, Saint Baume Voyages