St. Martha's Day

St. Martha's Day

Last weekend in June
Martha was the sister of Mary and of Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead ( see also Lazarus Saturday and St. Lazarus's Day). She is best known for her role in the Lord's visit to the house she shared with her two siblings in Bethany. While Mary sat and listened to their guest, Martha was busy serving and cleaning up. When she complained, Jesus told her that what Mary was doing was just as important as housework. For this reason, Martha is known as the patroness of housewives, cooks, and laundresses.
Martha's second, and legendary, claim to fame is that she killed a dragon who was ravaging the Provençal countryside, hiding on the wooded banks of the Rhone and periodically feeding on flocks and men. She overcame the beast by sprinkling holy water on him, then she bound him with her belt and led him into town, where the townspeople stoned him to death. A church was built on the site of this alleged event in what is now known as Tarasçon in Provence, France.
Every year on the last weekend in June a procession takes place there that commemorates St. Martha's power. In the first procession, eight men representing those devoured by the dragon walk next to its spiked body and manipulate the tail and jaws, which snap at the crowd of spectators. In the second procession, the dragon trots along behind a young girl representing St. Martha. Traditionally, she is dressed in white and leads the dragon leashed on her crimson ribbon belt.
See also Stes. Maries, FÉte des
CONTACTS:
Tourist Office
16 Blvd. Itam
Tarascon, 13150 France
33-4-9091-0352; fax: 33-4-9091-2296
www.tarascon.org
SOURCES:
AnnivHol-2000, p. 124
DaysCustFaith-1957, p. 194
FestWestEur-1958, p. 44
OxYear-1999, p. 311
SaintFestCh-1904, p. 345
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