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Marseille, France: Basilica of Our Lady of the Guard

About Marseille:

Our Lady of the Guard overlooks Marseille
Our Lady of the Guard overlooks Marseille

Any visitor to Marseille will be quick to notice this magnificent Basilica perched high above the city. The Basilica has a turbulent history, having survived wars, the French revolution, a battle fought here during World War II, and just the ravages of time.

Many of the buildings around the port were damaged or destroyed during World War II, and in similar fashion to what was done in Warsaw, many of them were built to closely resemble their appearance before the war.

According to tradition, a group of Christians including Saint Mary Magdalene, her sister Martha, Lazarus and Maximin, arrived here after being pushed out in a boat without sails or oars, expected to drown. Through God’s providence, they arrived in Provence and began to evangelize.

Mary Magdalene eventually found her way to Saint-Maximin-La-Sainte Baume.

A treat not to be missed are the special boat-shaped cookies made here, called “les navettes”, a tradition to mark the arrival of Mary Magdalene and her companions. One of the most famous bakeries in Marseille, “Four des Navettes”  specializes in these cookies. They have been in business since 1791!

Getting there:

Marseille has a major international airport and can easily be reached by train as well. In addition, it is a popular Mediterranean cruise port.  Get plane, train & bus schedules, see fares & buy tickets here.

Address: Notre Dame de la Garde Rue Fort du Sanctuaire 13281 Marseille

GPS coordinates: 43° 17′ 3.5376” N, 5° 22′ 21.7920” E

Tel: +33 (0)4 91 13 40 80

Click here for the official website of Notre Dame de la Garde.


About the Abbey of Saint Victor:

You will find the tomb of Saint John Cassian (c. 360 – 435) here in Marseille at the Abbey of Saint Victor. Sometimes called John Cassian the Roman, he originally was educated in the middle East, later went to Rome and finally ended up in Marseille, where he founded the Abbey. His Feast Day is July 23rd. He was never formally canonized a Saint, since that process had not yet been formalized at the time of his death, but he is still considered a Saint.

Saint Cassian’s relics can be found in the underground chapel, but his head and right hand are in the main church. Guided visits are available on certain days, and for self-guided tours you can download an app on your smartphone.


Traveling to the Abbey of Saint Victor in Marseille:

Marseille has a major airport, and is also a port of call on several cruise lines.  It is served by rail from many cities in France.  For train schedules and fares click here.

Address: Abbaye Saint-Victor, Place Saint-Victor, 13007 Marseille

GPS coordinates: 43° 17′ 24.2196” N, 5° 21′ 55.0908” E

Tel: +33 04 96 11 22 60

Click here for the official website of the Abbey of Saint Victor (Basilique St-Victor) in Marseille.

Click here to find hotels & restaurants in Marseille, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor

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