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THE CHURCH OF LA MAJOR.
accorded to it many special privileges. It had a Chapter, of which the Canons, in the thirteenth century, had become so irregular in their conduct, that some special rules were drawn up by authority of the Pope's legate to keep these luxurious ecclesiastics in order. They were directed, amongst other things, to abstain from playing with dice or at other games of chance, to avoid the sumptuous robes and gold ornaments then in vogue, and not to go about the city at night.“without evident necessity and without being in good company.” The revenues of La Major were very large, having risen to an annual average of 110,000 livres prior to the French Revolution. The ornaments and treasures of the church were very costly, and its services were celebrated for their magnificence. Amongst its relics were stones said to have come from the manger-cradle and also from the sepulchre of our Lord, some fragments of fish from the feeding of the five thousand, a tooth of St. Peter and some hair from his beard, a rib of Mary Magdalene, and a vase containing a tear shed by our Saviour before the grave of Lazarus. The beautiful marble columns, the grand mediæval organ, the finest in France, the superb octagonal baptistery, and the numerous tombs and monuments, bave all passed away.
Many kings and princes have visited the ancient Church of La Major for purposes of pageantry or solemn ceremonial.
Not the least interesting of these visits was that of Queen Christina of Sweden, in 1656, the year before her infamous murder of Monaldeschi, at Fontainebleau. Christina was one of the strangest characters of the seventeenth century. To be able to gratify freely her own tastes and inclinations, she descended her throne, and bade farewell to her war-loving subjects. She was the friend of Descartes, Pascal, and Grotius, could talk in eight languages on almost any subject, and left Lutheranism for the Roman Catholic faith, because it facilitated her intercourse with the learned men and artists of the day. She had been arranging her conversion at Rome, and on returning to France viá Marseilles, was splendidly entertained by the city. The daughter of Gustavus Adolphus was a little, round-shouldered, almost humpbacked woman, with a full oval face, bright blue eyes, and an aquiline nose. She affected manly tones, mien and gestures, and flavoured her conversation with loose jokes and allusions. It was on a July evening in 1056 that Christina was brought by a papal galley, escorted by three others, to the Old Port of Marseilles. There was a grand reception. An orator, Balthasar de Vias, offered the homage of the city in a long speech. “You resemble,” said he, "our Clothildes and our Blanches in your piety, and the Semiramises in their magnificence. You outvie the Penthesileas in your courage, and your Swedish Amasalonthas in your personal charms. You equal the Zenobias in chastity, and all the Muses in their knowledge, and so on, till all parties must have been weary. Amidst the ringing of bells and booming of cannon and the acclamations of the people, the queen was taken to a house prepared for her, the King of France having given orders that she was to be received with all royal honours. On the following day, after accepting the homage of a crowd of Provençal nobility and gentry, Christina went to hear grand mass at La Major.
She was carried there in a blue palanquin, borne on the shoulders of gaily-liveried men, and an attendant held over her head a red silk parasol with a gold border. The city officials and four-and-twenty mousquetaires formed the escort. The mousquetaires remained at the church-door, but during the ceremonial one of their guns went off, thereby killing two persons and wounding several. The people were exasperated, and a severe struggle ensued, only terminated by the consuls withdrawing and concealing the mousquetaires. The grand mass had to be hurried through, and amidst a scene of popular disorder the queen reached her temporary home, from which she soon afterwards set out for Paris.
At the end of the Rue Sainte, on the south of the Old Harbour, stands the Church of St. Victor, of which the crypt and substructures date from the fifth century. The two square battlemented towers were built by Pope Urban in 1350. That Pontiff, whose remains were subsequently interred here, had formerly been abbot of the adjacent monastery of St. Victor, a famous religious house, which in the Middle Ages amassed great riches, bore sway over numerous vassals, and whose seigniorial rites extended far and wide. It was in the year 410 that the Abbey of St. Victor was founded, and the first church built on this site, by St. Cassian. Scythia, Africa, Athens, Rome, all claim St. Cassian as a native. He adopted the religious life at Bethlehem, spent seven years in a solitary hermitage in the Thebaid, afterwards performed various services for the Church at Constantinople, where he was ordained a priest by the celebrated John Chrysostom, and then passed to Marseilles. Here he found the bones of St. Victor in the grotto consecrated to the faith by the little gatherings of the earliest converts, near a wood that in still earlier days had been a sacred grove of the Druids, and a scene of human sacrifices. He built his abbey and instituted a fraternity long renowned for its pious austerity, and afterwards for its affluence and power. At the Saracen invasion of 923, the monks were slain or dispersed, and indeed the abbey and church were several times destroyed and re-constructed. It is said that the catacombs beneath the church once extended under the harbour to the opposite shore, and that St. Lazarus and St. Victor were buried in them. Here was kept the celebrated Vierge Noire (ati ributed to St. Luke), whose chief office it was to supply rain in time of drought. Crowds assembled to behold it decked out in gay robes and silver diadem at Candlemas.
The annual festival of St. Victor was formerly one of the great events of the year to the populace of Marseilles, associated as it was with the grand cavalcade known as the “Cours du Capitaine de St. Victor.” The Capitaine, who was chosen from an assembly of the nobility of the province, convened by the consuls, needed to be endowed with a goodly share of superfluous riches, as upon him fell a large proportion of the costs of the subsequent proceedings. On the eve of the festival there was a a grand procession. The captains of the quarters, with their companies, with drums beating and banners flying, marched in advance. Then followed the Capitaine de St. Victor, attired as medieval chevalier, and carried by a gallant war-steed, with bright glittering harness, caparisoned in white damask and gorgeously adorned. Before him were borne the arms of the abbey and the arms of the city, and he was attended by gaily-dressed pages and cavaliers, bearing flambeaux. Then followed a brilliant cavalcade of young gentlemens the flower of Provence, in squadrons of different colours, and all arrayed in costume, of the richest and most elegant description. Such was the procession that amidst the plaudits of the multitude made its way through the city, and gave a foretaste of the splendours of the morrow.
On the following morning the Capitaine crossed the Old Port on horseback by means
NOTRE DAME DES ACCOULES.
of a temporary bridge of boats. Forth from the Abbey of St. Victor came twelve deacons in albs and dalmaticas, with palm-branches in their hands, and with crowns of flowers on their heads, bearing the relics of the saint. Amidst a display of sacerdotal magnificence, they bore their precious charge to a throne of rich stuffs erected on the centre of the bridge, whilst the artillery thundered from the ramparts and from the ships in the harbour, and from the entire city rose a mingled clamour of drums and trumpets and bells, and the acclamations of the excited people. Then the Capitaine de St. Victor, with the relics and their priestly guardians, with the consuls in their red robes, with councillors and chief citizens all in gala dresses, in addition to the martial and knightly cavalcade with which he swept through the streets on the previous evening, made the circuit of the city. The streets were gaily decorated with flowers and garlands, and made pleasant with sweet herbs—and of some such deodorisation the streets of Old Marseilles always stood in need. Here and there were tastefully improvised triumphal arches, and as the procession passed along, from the windows and balconies, tenanted by a long array of Provençal beauties, there was a rain of flowers, especially as the sacred relies passed by. A grand feast at the abbey closed the day's proceedings. The annual procession was kept up till the middle of the seventeenth century, but a mere travesty of the proceedings, in which money was collected instead of being lavishly spent, lasted till 1727, when the Capitaine de St. Victor rode for the last time through the streets of Marseilles.
A small round chapel with a tall clock-tower represents the once celebrated Church of Notre Dame des Accoules, the finest Gothic edifice in the city, said to have been built on the site of a Temple of Apollo. It contained the tombs of many distinguished citizens of Marseilles, and amongst its curiosities was the noted crucifix on which the effigy of our Lord, life-size, was clad in a mitre and blue sacerdotal robes. Before the church-doors in early times justice was publicly administered. To the sacred edifice, on New Year's Day and other festivals, came the consuls and chief citizens, to take part in grand ceremonials. It was also the scene of the fêtes and solemnities of that strange turbulent confraternity of attorneys' clerks known as the Basoche. The Church des Accoules is associated with the story of the curé Louis Ganfridi, who for sorcery and other abominations was burnt in the Place des Précheurs in 1611. During the Middle Ages, and far up into the seventeenth century, the Provençal mind nourished a frenzy of superstition about evil spirits and sorcerers. The Devil's Well, in the cloisters of St. Nicholas, with the alleged marks of his claws in the acanthus-leaves at the margin, the Devil's Fountain, the Devil's Oven, the Sorcerer's Grotto, the Devil's Mill, and other places in and near Marseilles with reputed infernal associations, all bear witness to the times when men's imaginations were full of wizards and loup-garous, and all sorts of delirious dreams.
But to return for a moment to the Church des Accoules. After serving for a time as the seat of a popular tribunal appointed by the Sections, it was ordered to be destroyed in May, 1794. The tower was spared, and is the representative of the several times rebuilt tower of Sauveterre, whose great bell sounded the retraite. It was re-constructed in 1856.
The Church of Notre Dame de Mont Carmel, in the Old City, displays nothing very remarkable, except its lofty roof and a few sculptures. The monks of Mont Carmel, driven from the Holy Land by the infidels, about 12-10 established themselves in a number of
separate cells near Marseilles, meeting once a day for Divine service in an ancient hermitage. Some accompanied St. Louis to Paris; those who remained at Marseilles built a convent and this church about the year 1285. It was rebuilt in 1651.
Of the many other churches in Marseilles only a few more must be mentioned, and that very briefly. St. Martin is a mixture of architecture of many periods ; its origin is obscure, but it was rebuilt on an ancient site in 1163. St. Cannat, formerly the Dominican Church des Précheurs, was in course of building from 1526 to 1619. It has had a troubled history, especially during the Reign of Terror, when it was a temple of the goddess of reason and a gathering-place of the insurgents. Though shorn of its ancient splendour, its fine façade, its pulpit, one of the finest in Marseilles, and some good paintings still remain, and are much admired. St. Joseph (1831) and St. Vincent de Paul (1855) are amongst the finest churches of Marseilles. The latter is a beautiful Gothic building, with two tall spires, each 195 feet in height. The Church of St. Theodore was the church of the Franciscan Convent. It was consecrated in 1648 by the Bishop Étienne de Puget. During the Revolution one of the Sections sat here, and the sacred edifice was on one or two occasions the scene of tumult and murder. It has been elaborately restored, and has many fine paintings and sculptures. The Church of St. Laurent is the church of the Quartier St. Jean, the headquarters of the fishing population, who for centuries formed a close and important corporation of their own.
A new Cathedral has been built close by La Major. It stands on a slight elevation, twenty-nine feet above the Quai de la Joliette, overlooking all the recently constructed ports. The Prince President Louis Napoleon laid the foundation-stone in 1852. The building is in the Byzantine style, from the designs of M. Vandoyer. The nave measures 455 feet in length, by 52 in breadth and 82 in height. The transept is 102 feet long, the dome 195 feet high.
The Protestant Temple in the Rue Grignan only dates from 1822, but it may naturally bring to memory the long persecution that the votaries of the Reformed faith experienced in this city. In the year 1545 there had been horrible butchery amongst the Vaudois at Cabrières and Merindol, and of those who escaped massacre nearly 700 were brought to the galleys of Marseilles, and of these some 200 died of their misery. In 1560 there were a few hundred Protestants among the inhabitants of Marseilles, but the populace generally was furiously Papist. Every now and then Protestants were stoned, or hanged, or stabbed, and authority was powerless to interfere. In January, 1562, the king published the Edict of Nantes, securing toleration to the Protestants; but Marseilles worked itself up to such a pitch of frenzy that the city was specially exempted from the operation of the Edict. It was not long before Provence was devastated by the Religious Wars, as Leaguers and Calvinists closed in the deadly struggle. When Henry IV. became master of Marseilles, he was obliged to ordain that the Catholic religion alone should be tolerated in the city. But there is evidence that the Huguenots were never entirely got rid of. The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes sent some 14,000 Provençal Protestants out of the kingdom, and some well-to-do Marseillaise citizens were among the number. Even when quieter times supervened, it was long before Protestants in Marseilles could enjoy their civic rights, or worship God according to their own manner in peace and security.
NOTRE DAME DE LA GARDE.
Occasional persecutions broke out in the provinces long after Paris had become tolerant. Writing from Lyons in July, 1709, Voltaire says : “ There are in the Kingdom of France about 300,000 fools, whom other fools treat cruelly. They are sent to the galleys or hanged for the crime of praying to God in bad French in the open air. And it is characteristic of my nation that we know nothing of all this at Paris, where we are fully occupied with the Opéra Comique and the intrigues of Versailles." . Previous to the Revolution there were several hundred Protestants in Marseilles, some of them taking a prominent place as citizens. One of them, Louis Liquier, was a deputy to the States-General in 1789.
To the south of the town, and conspicuously overlooking it from the summit of a hill 500 feet above the sea-level, rises the restored Church of Notre Dame de la Garde. The hill was anciently covered with a dense forest, in the midst of which the Druids celebrated their mysteries. In the tenth century there stood upon this hill a tower, which was then some 400 years
an age of invasion and piracy, and there was much in Marseilles to tempt the cupidity of robbers. A strict watch over sea and land was kept from this elevated spot, and so both tower and hill obtained the name of La Garde. The hill formed part of the possessions of the Abbey of St. Victor, and
. in 1211 Abbot William ceded it to a monk named Peter. This good man built a chapel beside the tower, and very naturally named it La Chapelle de Notre Dame de la Garde; and it subsequently became an object of great veneration with the people of Marseilles. Francis I. built a fort here in 1525, and included the chapel within its walls. Other forts were subsequently constructed for the defence of Marseilles, and La Garde seems to have lost all importance in a military point of view. The governorship became a sinecure, and once occupied by Scudery, whom Boileau so unmercifully satirised. Scudery obtained the office through the influence of Madame de Rambouillet.
The chapel, after being once or twice rebuilt, has been superseded by a splendid modern erection in the Romano-Byzantine style. The portal is surmounted by a quadrangular tower in several stages, terminating in a lantern, upon the summit of which stands a colossal statue of the Virgin. The interior is sumptuously decorated with white Carrara marble, red African marble, mural paintings, &c. The columns of the transept are of green marble from the Alps. Below the chapel is a crypt, with mosaic pavement. The total cost of the building, which was consecrated in June, 1864, was 3,000,000 francs, raised partly by a lottery and partly by subscriptions.
Within the chapel, which for ages has been a place of pilgrimage to Mediterranean sailors and fishermen, there is a highly-venerated and very antique effigy of the Virgin, carved in olive-wood. The ceilings and walls are hung with ex votos, pious offerings commemorating deliverances from all sorts of dangers by sea and land. Though for the most part wretched daubs, they are exceedingly curious. In one, the Virgin, with the visage and
, demeanour of a flying mermaid, is seen appearing to a ship in a storm. Others are painfully realistic representations of surgical operations, street accidents, drownings, and explosions. Models of ships, crutches, broken ropes, and other mementoes of distressing occurrences abound. From the rocks at the foot of the chapel the view is very fine, embracing the fair valley of the Rhone; the white houses of Marseilles stretching away up the plain ; the grey mountains of Spain in the far distance; the dazzling blue of the sea; the dark