Fete de la Madeleine

Madeleine, Fête de la

July 22
The Magdalene Festival is observed in St. Baume, a forested region of Provence, France, on the anniversary of the death of Mary Magdalene. An unfounded ninth-century legend has it that she set out from Palestine in a small boat and miraculously arrived on the shores of Provence. Wandering eastward from Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, she came to la fôret de la Baume, "the forest of the cave," a grotto where she spent 33 years living on wild roots and berries doing penance for her sins.
Thousands of pilgrims have visited la Sainte Baume, the holy cave, since the 13th century. Although July 22 is the most popular pilgrimage date, the shrine is visited throughout the year. At one time a journey to the grotto was considered especially important for engaged couples, who went there to ensure a fruitful marriage. More recently, young girls have scrambled up the wooded hillside to ask for the Magdalene's help in finding a husband.
CONTACTS:
French Government Tourist Office
825 Third Ave., Fl. 29
New York, NY 10022
514-288-1904; fax: 212-838-7855
www.franceguide.com
SOURCES:
AnnivHol-2000, p. 121
FestWestEur-1958, p. 45