Visiting Mary Magdalene´s Grotto

Fri, May 13th, 2016: The weather did not cooperate with us today – the weather god was definitely not in a good mood. It rained throughout of the entire first day of our spiritual journey. Even if it wasn´t heavy rain, the beautiful basilica in Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume was not glistening in the sun as usual. Also, the grotto, in which Mary Magdalene supposedly lived, was entirely dark today. Nevertheless, we did not let the weather dampen our mood. It was a wonderful day filled wit impressive energy and messages from Mary Magdalene, which I was able to channel for the group. They will continue to have a positive affect on us for a long time to come. If you want to learn more about the place that Mary Magdalene lived in and is allegedly buried in, you should continue reading below the photos.

Today we have been guided and accompanied by Mary Magdalene and Maximinus. He was the first Bishop of Aix-en Provence. Legend tells that he was so close to Mary Magdalene that he was also her confessor, and she received the last rites from him. (It remains to be seen whether she was really in need of this…)

In the morning we went from our hotel to Saint-Maximin. Allegedly, Mary Magdalene’s remains, which had been hidden to prevent them being stolen, were found here again in 1300. They were buried in a stone sarcophagus in the crypt in front of the high altar of Saint-Maximin.

The church is a devotional complex, representing Mary Magdalene in different ways: in paintings, sculptures, on the high altar, as a brass figure, carved or as a painted medallion. The golden ‘rose altar’ is particularly remarkable. It contains several scenes of the life of Mary Magdalene, and the carved pulpit. Only one side chapel is dedicated to Maximinus, where he is represented with Mary Magdalene and Martha on an altar.

In a sarcophagus in the crypt there are the supposed remains of Mary Magdalene. Furthermore, her head is set up in a glass container behind the altar bar. The front of this container is decorated with a golden mask which can be removed. The relics are carried through the village in a large procession once a year. Next to Mary Magdalene’s sarcophagus there are four others, containing Maximinus’s and Nicodemus’s relics.

Our journey took us to the high plateau of Plan d’Aups next. On the way we came past an old shrine, which shows the last encounter of Mary Magdalene with Maximinus. First we arrived at the high plateau Plan d’Aups, which holds a pilgrims refuge and a small restaurant which are open for pilgrims and hikers throughout the year. The chapel of the Hostillerie, as the hostel is referred to, is decorated with wall paintings and glass windows, showing scenes of the life of Mary Magdalene.

From there the path leads us up to the grotto through a particularly mystic wood, with trees, hundreds and thousands of years old. Numerous kings, noblemen and Popes have walked this path before us because La Baume (‘the cave’) has been apopular pilgrimage place since the 5th century. The crucifixion scene, which we reached shortly before, was impressive as well.

In front of the entrance to the grotto you enjoy impressive views over the landscape of eastern Provence, the area around St. Maximin. Mary Magdalene is said to have lived in the cave for 30 years to do penance for her allegedly sinful life. At the end of her life ‘angels should have carried her down into the valley’ to receive the last holy communion from Maximin. All this is legend. Inside the grotto there are two devotional places as well as some beautiful stained glass windows, showing scenes of Mary Magdalene’s life.

France Spirituality & Journeys

The Holy Grotto of Mary Magdalene

One of the highlights of our spiritual journey in the fall will be a visit to “La Sainte Baume”, the “holy cave” of Mary Magdalene. In order to plan our itinerary and to double-check the infrastructure, we drove to this precious place yesterday. We hiked through a beautiful old forest to the cave, which is situated in a steep rock wall.

Legend has it that Mary Magdalene lived there as a penitent for 30 years and was carried from time to time into the valley by angels. Since we don’t just want to believe this popular belief, we discussed, while hiking up to the cave, how someone would have even been able to survive there 2000 years ago. Mary Magdalene cannot be considered a “regular person”, but instead has to be viewed as a highly enlightened and spiritual figure one can assume that she didn’t just feed off of food, but probably also knew the art of bilocation. She would have been able to feed off of light and could have existed in two locations at the same time.

Many royals and popes, who went to the cave to honor Mary Magdalene or to ask for her help and advice, also used the way we went over the lasthundreds of years. The scenic view from the entrance of the cave makes the long hike worth it and because of the wonderful atmosphere in the cave one can almost feel a holy energy. Even though our approach to Mary Magdalene probably differs from the other people who were praying in the grotto we felt a silent connection with them, as if a soft veil of energy enveloped us all.

Mary Magdalene