Tarascon, France: The Collegiate Church of Saint Martha & The Abbey of Saint Michael of Frigolet
Not far from Avignon is the town of Tarascon. A fortified medieval village, it presents interesting architecture, but in addition to that you will find two very interesting Catholic sites:
Saint Martha after the Resurrection:
We often hear of Martha, Mary and Lazarus of Bethany and their close relationship with Jesus. But what of their whereabouts after the Resurrection?
According to tradition, about 14 years after the Resurrection, Martha, Mary and Lazarus were set adrift in a boat, with no oars or sails, to die. They survived, however and first arrived in Avignon around 48 A.D. Martha then later went on to Tarascon. The story goes that at the time in which she arrived, an amphibious beast was preying upon the local population. She tamed the beast, only for it to be butchered by the townspeople.
About The Collegiate Church of Saint Martha:
The Church is built on the spot of the house where she used to live. The crypt area contains the relics and the tomb of St. Martha. Her Feast Day is celebrated July 29th (the Feast Day now includes her sister Mary and brother Lazarus).
There is no website of the Church of which we are aware. Click here for the official website of the town of Tarascon.
The Church is open daily on weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Masses are held on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. (winter) and 6:30 p.m (summer) and Sundays at 10:30 a.m. The phone number is (33) 04-90-91-0950.
The Abbey of Saint Michael de Frigolet:
Located just a few miles from the center of town, the Abbey is run by the Order of the Canons Regular of Prémontré and follow the Rule of Life of St. Augustine of Hippo. For centuries the Abbey has been a place of prayer and refuge. The Fathers welcome visitors and short-term guests: anyone seeking silence, rest, study or prayer. They are also active in local institutions such as schools and hospitals.
Part of the Abbey is the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Graces, a destination for thousands of pilgrims, mostly from Provence. For at least 850 years, the faithful have climbed up the Montagnette to pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary. You will find many votives and messages of thanks for her intercession.
Traveling to Tarascon:
You can take a train from Avignon to Tarascon. In addition, there are three river cruise lines (Avalon, Viking and Uniworld) that do have stops in Avignon, so it is possible that you can arrange a day trip to Tarascon. Get train & bus schedules, see fares & buy tickets here.
Address: Route de Frigolet, 13150 Tarascon-sur-Rhône
GPS coordinates: 43° 51′ 29.7288” N, 4° 43′ 42.5172” E
Tel: +33 (0)4 90 95 70 07 Fax: +33 (0)04 90 90 79 23
e-mail for the hotel: firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here for the official website of the Abbey of Saint Michael de Frigolet in Tarascon. (in English or French)
Note: on Tuesdays the local market sets up in town and is a good chance to see some of the local wares, especially the fabrics made here in the local factory.
Photo credits: Commune of Tarrascon & Abbey of Saint Michael de Frigolet.