The fortified Church of Saintes Maries,house of Sarah statue,patron saint of Gypsies.
Saintes Maries de la Mer Travel Blog› entry 2 of 6 › view all entries
Built near the Petit Rhône river,the church of Saintes Maries de la Mer which served as a look-out tower,held a strategic position.At the time of its construction,between the 9th and 12th century (in place of a Celtic,then Roman and finally Christian ancient sanctuaries),all the coastal towns needed to defend themselves from the pirates.
The fortified church towers over the village and is visible from 10 km inland looking more a medieval castle than an ecclesiastical building:the church consists of a 15 m high nave ,without aisles,with a roof encircled by a walkway and walls with crenellations and machicolations.The walls of this watch tower feature also embrasures,arrow slits and the choir and apse are surmounted by a keep.
Inside the church at the right of the altar stands the statue of saint Sarah,also know Sarah the black,the mythic patron saint of the Roma people(Gypsies) who according to one of the local legends was a servant of one of the Three Marys.The center altar bears a reliquary and against the wall stands the Processional cross,carried by the Gitans.
It is the site of a famous Roma pilgrimage made each year to venerate saint Sarah.