Online Encyclopedia

LES

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V16, Page 494 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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LES SAINTES-MARIES, a coast village of south-eastern France in the department of Bofiches-du-Rhone, 24 M. S.S.W. of Arles by rail. Pop. (1906) 544• Saintes-Maries is situated in the plain of the Camargue, 12 m. E. of the mouth of the Petit-Rhone. It is the object of an ancient and famous pilgrimage due to the tradition that Mary, sister of the Virgin, and Mary, mother of James and John, together with their black servant Sara, Lazarus, Martha, Mary Magdalen and St Maximin fled thither to escape persecution in Judaea. The relics of the two Maries, who are said to have been buried at Saintes-Maries, are bestowed in the upper storey of the apse of the fortress-church, a remarkable building of the 12th century with crenelated and machicolated walls. Two festivals are held in the town, a less important one in October, the other, on the 24th and 25th of May, unique for its gathering of gipsies who come in large numbers to do honour to the tomb of their patroness Sara, contained in the crypt below the apse.
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