Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Holy Maries of the Sea

This beautiful vintage religious medal is from France (like most of my medals) and shows two women floating in a little boat being rowed by angels.  The inscription is "Saintes Maries P.P.N" (Holy Maries Pray For Us).  This really unusual and pretty medal was struck to commemorate an ancient devotion to the "Holy Maries of the Sea".

According to legend, after the crucifixion of Jesus, Mary Salome, Mary Jacobe, and Mary Magdalene set sail (or were cast adrift) from Alexandria, Egypt with their uncle Joseph of Arimathea. Either way they arrived off the coast of what is now France, at location now known as Notre-Dame-de-Ratis (Our Lady of the Boat). The name was later changed to Notre-Dame-de-la-Mer, and then in 1838 to Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer (Holy Maries of the Sea).
The town is a pilgrimage destination for Roma (Gypsies), who gather yearly for a religious festival in honor of Saint Sarah. The French believed she was Mary Magdalene's daughter, and she was also known as Sara-la-Kali (Sara the black). Dark-skinned Saint Sara is said to have possibly been the Egyptian servant of the three Marys. (source: Wikipedia)

Some of these medals also show Saint Sarah on the back, but she usually gets the short end of the stick and is portrayed as a woman hidden by about 20 layers of ruffles, so she looks a little bit like a post.

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