Saintes Maries de la Mer Necklace
Item № 1121-31MS
Trésor Bleu Exclusive, rare
Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, c. 1951
Well-preserved circular 825 silver (French standard) medal. .75 inches in diameter bright, bleu/blue relief enamel surround medal from 1951.
Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, an ancient town in the marshes of the Camargue, where the Rhône River meets the Mediterranean Sea, is named for two Marys — in French, Ste. Marie Jacobé and Ste. Marie Salomé — who are closely linked to Jesus in the gospels. The designation “de-la-mer” (of the sea) derives from a medieval tradition that after Jesus’ death the two Marys traveled across the sea by boat and lived in the Camargue the rest of their lives, helping to bring Christianity to France.
The three saints Mary Magdalene, Mary Salome, and Mary of Clopas are believed to be the women who were the first witnesses to the empty tomb at the Resurrection of Jesus. After the Crucifixion of Jesus, the Marys were said to set sail from Egypt. According to a longstanding French legend, they either sailed to or were cast adrift - arriving off the coast of what is now France, at "a sort of fortress named Oppidum-Râ". The location became known as Nôtre-Dame-de-Ratis (Our Lady of the Boat - Râ being used in ratis, or boat) The name was later changed to Notre-Dame-de-la-Mer. In 1838, it was changed to Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.
Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer is known in France for the celebrations it holds for each Mary’s feast, in May and October. The feast days in May draw large numbers of Pilgrimage Catholics and others from France and beyond — typically 25,000-40,000 people. The high points at that feast include a ritual when a painted reliquary chest, said to contain the bones of the Saintes Maries, is ceremoniously lowered from its high perch to the altar for veneration.