The basilica Notre-Dame de la Garde dominates the city of Marseille. It is dear to the hearts of all the people of Marseille. It is the “Good Mother” who watches over the city. Overlooking the port, it offers a splendid view of the Mediterranean. It is a true symbol of religious heritage in France.
In 1214, a first small chapel was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. As the years went by, the gifts of sailors allowed the chapel to be enlarged. Today’s basilica was built in 1853 and has many beautiful ex-votos of sailors, those who returned safely from naval battles and ship wrecks. This devotion to Mary is neither due to an apparition nor to a miracle but to the trusting devotion of missionaries and Marseille sailors toward the Virgin Mary. In the 19th century, when missionaries left for Asia or Africa with no hope of return, the statue of the Virgin and her Child of the basilica is the last image that they had of their country.
Two communities of missionaries live today on the property of the basilica. Coming from the four corners of the world, the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary and the Travailleuses Missionnaires work together through the liturgy and the welcoming of pilgrims. The Travailleuses Missionnaires come from all over the world and have a restaurant called “l’Eau Vive” where one can eat.
Why not start your pilgrimage in France in Marseille?