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

In the Footsteps of Mary Magdalene: St. Maximin – Mary Magdalene Grotto – St. Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume

“Today’s visit to the Mary Magdalene grotto was surely one of the absolute highlights of our spiritual journey. The weather angel looked out for us as it was supposed to rain, but didn’t. We arrived in Plan d-Aups and walked through a mystic forest, that supposedly consists of trees up to 1000 years old, to the grotto. Numerous kinds, aristocrats and popes walked on this path in the past centuries, because La Baume („The cave“) has been a well-known pilgrimage place since the 5th century. On the walk to the grotto, one also passes a larger-than-life cruxification-scene, which looks quite spectacular.

Standing at the entrance to the grotto, one has an amazing view of scenery of Eastern Provence, a region most commonly associated with Saint Maximin. As legend has it, Mary Magdalene lived in the cave for 30 years, to atone for her sins. The interior of the grotto houses two memorial sites as well as beautiful glass windows which depict scenes of Mary Magdalene’s life. Many of us could feel her energy and were touched by it.

After leaving the cave we drove to the basilica in Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baum, which is dedicated to Mary Magdalene and Maximinus who are depicted by the main entrance of the church. The church is one huge commemoration site and depicts Mary Magdalene in various ways through paintings, sculptures, at the altar on carved or painted medallions. Especially noteworthy ist he golden ‚rose altar’ that depicts a view scenes of Mary Magdalene’s life and the carved pulpit.

In the church crypt one can view a sarcophagus that supposedly houses the human remains of Mary Magdalene. In addition, her head is displayed in a glass container behind the iron bars of the altar. The glas container is decorated with a golden mask in front, which can be removed. The reliquary is being carried through town during its annual procession.

Today our spiritual journey is coming to an end and we are celebrating with an evening meditation and dinner. It was a particularly harmonic, intense and transformative time together, during which many new friendships developed and existing friendships were deepend. Each of the participants went through his/her own transformation process during the course of the journey and could proceed towards his/her own spiritual developmental path.

The last few days were very touching and moving for all of us, at the same time we had a lot of fun and laughed together. We enjoyed eachother’s company, the excellent French cuisine and the exquisite French wine. Spirituality has nothing to do with being detached or with askesis, but can take place during one’s life on earth.

PS: Tomorrow, Gerd and I are traveling to Languedoc in order to prepare our Spiritual Journey 2014. …”

France Spirituality & Journeys