The name “Martha” surfaces in the bible as being the name of Mary Magdalene’s and Lazarus’ sister. As mentioned in my blog No. 85, the name Maria (Mirjam) was seen as a title of high honor during the peak of Qumram. During that time, women with this name held high spiritual appointments within the religious communities. For example, these women were trained in the art of healing or lead liturgic ceremonies for women.
The name “Martha” has also a deeper meaning and actually presented a title. Martha means “mistress” and in contrast to women who were named Maria, a woman named Martha was allowed to possess property. Within their religious communities, both occupied the same status.
On our journey through Provence we also visited Tarascon, the place where Martha once lived. As legend has it, Martha freed that place from a monster named “Tarasque” and the inhabitants honored her for her brave deed. On paintings and depictions of Martha throughout that region of Provence, one can see her portrayed with a dragon and a mallet with which she supposedly killed the monster. The church of Tarascon is one big memorial site, full with pictures of her. Our tour group had also view this church on our spiritual journey through Provence in the fall.