10 September 2009

Sainte Baume

Grotto of St. Mary Magdalene and the Dominican Abbey chiseled into the rock-face, with the chapel of St. Pilon at the top

Tradition has it that, after the death of Our Lord, St. Mary Magdalene traveled to Provence, France, and there spent the last thirty years of her life as a solitary in a mountain cave on the plain of the Plan D'Aups, overlooking the Massif de la Sainte-Baume. Thousands of pigrims have come to this holy site over the centuries, including eight popes and eighteen kings.

Massif de la Sainte Baume

The Chemin des Roys: an hour-long journey up this "path of kings" ends at the Grotto. Eighteen kings made pilgrimages to the Holy Grotto via this path, some in penance on their knees.

Procession of Dominicans on the Chemin des Roys

The otherworldly Forêt Domaniale de la Sainte Baume, with its centuries-old yews and wild appletrees, beeches, elms, and maples

From Adventure Guide to Provence and the Cote D'azur:
The forest itself is extremely ancient, filled with the kind of moisture-dependent flora and fauna that is relatively rare in Provence. It harbors very old trees--some yew trees are nearly a thousand years old. The forest has been protected since the early Middle Ages, through papal bulls and royal decrees. In modern times, it came under the protection of the French National Forestry Office (ONF) and remains an environmentally protected site.

Stairway to the Grotto

Sainte Baume from without

Interior of the Grotto

Another view of the interior

Ste Marie-Madeleine, priez pour nous!

For information on pilgrimages to the grotto, visit the website of L'Hôtellerie de la Sainte-Baume.