Marseille, France boasts of awe-inspiring monuments, chief of which is the Abbaye Saint-Victor in Rue de l'Abbaye. This utterly beguiling abbey harks back to the 5th century and was built above the grounds where Saint Victor was buried.
This fortified abbey stands just above the Vieux-Port's bank, on its southern side. The view of the ancient building makes an interesting counterpoint with the sleek and modern yachts below, at the dry dock.
Saint Victor of Marseilles was a martyr who played an important part in the development of Christianity in the Mediterranean. It is said that he publicly denounced idols and refused to worship the god Jupiter. He was an officer in the Roman army and because of his denunciation, the emperor had him beaten, thrown in prison and then beheaded.
Thus, the Abbey is a memorial to this brave saint, as well as to the friends who also chose to follow the way he led and who also died with him. This also makes the Abbey distinct, as it is the resting place of the first Christians, before Emperor Constantine allowed people to worship freely.
It was founded in the 4th century by Cassien. It included a chapel and two monasteries, one for women and one for men. Sadly, the original abbey was destroyed by the Saracens. The Abbey and its surrounding structures was rebuilt in the 11th century although the monastery for women was never rebuilt. Pope Urbain V had the area fortified during the 14th century. Now, all that remains is the abbey, as well as its fortifications.
During a visit to the abbey, be sure to view the numerous ancient sarcophagi. At the Abbey, you will also find the renowned Black Virgin. This statue is highly venerated in France and is the object of many a pilgrimage to the Abbey. There are also a number of sacred objects such as the sarcophagus of the above-mentioned people, as well as one from the 3rd century. Other items you should look into are the fragments of Saint Andre's Corss, the clothes of Saint Madeleine and the Virgin, as well as the sarcophagi of the Holy innocents.
The chapel and the abbey are excellent examples of Medieval architecture – quietly commanding with its spare lines, as well as its severe yet grand façade. The abbey is also an excellent site to experience one of the most sublime experiences in religion. Annually, crowds gather to attend the Candlemas (la fete de la Chandeleur), which is held every February. This is an especially enthralling treat, as the abbey has excellent acoustics. The music you hear during its religious events are simple amazing. This is also why a number of classical music concerts are regularly held at the Abbey. Be sure to catch one when you visit!
You can also get to see a mass, as there is at least one every day. You can also have your confession heard at specified times. As for the Abbey itself, you may visit from 9 in the morning until 7 in the evening.
Marseille, Provence Alpes Cote Azur, France
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