Inside the Church

Also known as the Pèlerinage des Saintes Maries, this takes place in France each year in late May. This celebration is deeply rooted in history and folklore, is a celebration of Romani culture and a gathering of Romani people from all over Europe. The event centers around the revered relics of the three Marys—Saint Mary Salome, Saint Mary Jacobe, and Saint Sarah—said to have arrived by boat on the shores of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in biblical times.

The celebration begins in the church. I was fortunate enough to be able to stand on the platform just next to the pulpit prior to and during the service. The service lasted almost three hours and was spoken in French so I just understood a little bit but enough to know that each priest was saying about the same thing. My friend and I were impressed at the devotion by so many people, especially young people.

The first set of photos shows what was happening prior to the service.

We thought this guy was going to make us move but fortunately that did not happen so we were able to keep our special places to view and photograph everything from the pulpit area.

During the over two hour service we watched people from all over Europe and the world some even seemed to go into trance.

This young beauty was sitting on her parent’s shoulders the whole time.

Everyone, especially the gypsies wait for reliquary caskets are brought down. Some lift their children up to let them touch and kiss the statues.