Women empowerment in Provence. Who was Mary Magdalene?

St Mary Magdalene in Marseille

St Mary Magdalene in Marseille

Who was Mary Magdalene?

She was a healer and a preacher, a mother, a wife and a disciple. She was a very powerful woman whose power is transcending time and she has become a mythical figure and an archetype. Images of her are present in the most ancient Tarot, she was “La Dame” celebrated by all the troubadours, Our Lady of The Holy Grail, Jesus wife for the Cathars  After the Inquisition she went into hiding to reappear in disguise in the symbols of the Knights Templar.

Women Empowerment is also about reclaiming the part of history where the presence of the feminine power was felt and worshiped.   In the Twelfth Century the region of Provence was known for its exceptional treatment of women. It’s location on the Mediterranee and between Italy and Spain makes it a natural melting pot of different cultures meeting for commerce since the Greek who created the port of Massilia now Marseille.

“Since the dawn of Christianity, this area had a very strong history of honoring women. During the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the women of Provence were held in especially high regard. A classic example of the “liberated woman” in the medieval world is Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204) whose notoriety  and power plays as wife and mother of kings shook Europe for decades.”    -The Woman with The Alabaster Jar-  by Margaret Starbird.

The story of St Mary Magdalene in the south of France and what she came to represent is for anybody with a christian background a most important figure. In the Languedoc she has been worshiped for a very long time, hundreds of small and big churches have been dedicated to her. Fountains bear her name and pilgrimages are done in her name. She is the protector of harvest and of water.

Mary Magdalene was a very important disciple of Jesus, she is the only one that anoints him, the first to see him resurrected, she is also called the apostle of apostles. She is believed by many authors to be his wife and the mother of his children. She has been deemed a prostitute by a Pope because her worship was threatening the church power.

“There are several distinct possibilities regarding this heresy of Jesus’ marriage. Perhaps it was true and survived because its adherents not only believed but knew it to be true (perhaps through some proof such as the famed “treasure of the Templars,” in the form of authentic documents or artifacts); or perhaps it was promulgated in an attempt to restore the lost feminine principle to Christian dogma, which was clearly unbalanced in favor of the masculine.”       -The Woman with The Alabaster Jar-  by Margaret Starbird.

Saintes-Maries-de-la Mer Van Gogh. 1888

Saintes-Maries-de-la Mer Van Gogh. 1888


If you like stories like I do, you’ll want to listen to the story at the origin of  Les-Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.   

The Legend of The Three Maries.

It is a very old French legend which started when in 40 AD  a boat landed in the swamp area of Camargue, the land of black bulls and white horses.

In this boat, coming from Egypt on the currents with no sails or oars, were three women, the first witnesses to the empty tomb at the resurrection of Jesus; Mary Salome, Mary Jacobe, and Mary Magdalene. Martha and Lazarus her brother, Sidoine the blind and  Joseph of Arimatie.

The place where the boat landed was an ancient roman fortress named “Ra”, like the Egyptian Sun God. Later it became “Notre Dame du Ratis” (ratis= boat)  and much later “Les Saintes Maries de la Mer”.

Gypsy Pilgrimage

Gypsy Pilgrimage

The spot of this extraordinary boat landing has become the most famous Gypsy pilgrimage.  Each May 24 and 25, Gypsies come from all over Europe to celebrate their Saint Patron, Sara. They carry her statue, one of the many black virgin statues in France, through town to the sea.

Dark-skinned Saint Sara is said to have been the Egyptian servant of the three Marys. A different version of the story is placing Sara as the first person to welcome the three Marys on shore. And still another version is Sara being the daughter of Mary Magdalene. More about Mary Magdalene.

Mary Magdalene, after converting many people from the area went on to Marseille and finished her life in a cave called La Sainte Beaume.  The skull of St Mary Magdalene.

St Mary Magdalene

St Mary Magdalene Cave

Who was Mary Magdalene?

Answers will depend on what you choose to believe in and that is what matters.

It is a very beautiful story and like all stories it stays alive as long as it is being told.


Check back here very soon for a very special package from Private Provence Tours


St Mary Magdalene in Provence

St Mary Magdalene in Provence


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