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Saint Victor Abbey Marseille

Monuments

Saint Victor Abbey is a sacred and historic building in the city. It symbolizes the beginnings of Christianity in Marseille.

 

The abbey would have been named after a Roman legionary called Victor. He was a survivor who helped the Christian community in Marseille. At that time, the Emperor Maximien Hercule was hostile to Christianity and decided to imprison him with other Christian soldiers. At his trial, Victor refused to submit to the authority and knocked over the foot of the altar with his foot. To punish him, his foot was cut off and he was then executed and thrown into the sea on July 21st 303, which became Saint Victor day.

 

Saint Victor Abbey used to be a quarry and then a necropolis. According to the tradition, the martyrs’ bodies, such as Victor's, were hidden by Christians. As a consequence, the necropolis became a  place of worship. Thus, a bishop called Proculus had the "Notre Dame de Confession" chapel built there followed by a monastery in 415 probably with the influence of John Cassian.

Today, the chapel is located in the heart of the crypt of the abbey, where is located the famous statue of the Black Virgin.

It is important to mention that the abbey has known a dark period after the fall of the Roman Empire. Indeed, it has been repeatedly plundered and damaged between the 7th and the 10th century. It was not until 977, after the defeat of the Saracens in 972, that the monastic activity resumed with the bishop Honorat. Great works were undertaken by the Catalan monk Isarn with the building of an upper church consecrated in 1040. The abbey was completely rebuilt between the 12th and 13th century, and then fortified in the 14th century by William of Grimoardwho became Pope Urban V in 1361.

The French Revolution was another source of deterioration and robbery. Its destruction was probably avoided because it was used as a prison.

It was completely restored in 1963 by the city of Marseille and listed as historical monument in 1997.

 

Each year, at the time of the Candlemas, a great pilgrimage takes place at Saint Victor: a procession from the Old Port to Saint Victor, through the rue Sainte. The Black Virgin, preserved in the crypt, is covered with a green coat before being presented to the crowd. The archbishop blesses her, celebrates the Mass and then goes to the Four des Navettes (the oldest bakery in Marseille).

 

Our famous 4-star hotel, the New Hotel of Marseille, is only a few-minute-walk away from Saint Victor Abbey. It is facing the Pharo and a few minutes away from the Old Port where you will enjoy the city centre.

 

Practical Informations:

Saint Victor Abbey - Marseille
3, rue de l'Abbaye
13007 Marseille

Phone: +33 4 96 11 22 60

Metro: Vieux Port (line 1), Canebière station + Bus N° 54-55-60-61-80-81

The Basilica is open from 9am to 7pm.

For more information visit the website of the Saint Victor Abbey.