Taken from the book, St Anne, Grandmother of Our Saviour by Frances Parkinson Keyes.After the death of Christ, the Jewish people were antagonistic towards the new, growing faith that resentment which reached greater heights a decade later. Fourteen years after Christ’s death and resurrection, the three siblings, Lazarus, Martha and Mary Magdalene found themselves, along with a group of Christians with them, under attack. It is not hard to see why Lazarus in particular would be viewed with hostility by the Sanhedrin, who had no belief in an after life and would have been troubled and angered by the growing fame of Lazarus, ‘the man who was raised from the tomb’ by Christ Himself. There were a couple of well known biblical characters in this group besides the three siblings – the two Mary’s - Mary Jacobe (mother of James the lesser) and Mary Salome (mother of the apostles, James and John), St Sidonius (the blind man in the Bible healed by Christ). Also the maid to one of the Mary's, Sera (St Sarah, a native Eygptian whose cult is connected to the two Marys) and St Maximin, the cousin to the trio and the man reported to have baptized Mary Magdalene. Tradition holds that a Jewish mob forced this group into a boat and set it adrift without any oars, sails or provisions. With them they carried a revered relic – the body of St Anne, mother to Our Lady. Divine Providence kept them safe upon the sea and gently guided the boat to the shores of Southern France. They first landed at the port city of Marseilles, there Lazarus settled and became the first Bishop of Marseilles. Mary Magdalene later retreated to the region of Sainte Baume for a life of seclusion and contemplation, after initially supporting her brother’s missionary work. The two Mary’s went by a smaller sea vessel with Sera to a wild and marshy, sea port region later to be named, Ste-Maries-de-la-Mer. It was a fishing village, built on an island in the heart of the Camargue, where the Petit Rhône joins the sea. The original village was grouped around the Notre-Dame-de-la-Mer church which had been built originally as an oratory to the Virgin by these first missionaries. St Martha went to Tarascon, a town that converted to Christianity after Martha defeated the Tarasque (sea monster) that had been terrorizing the district. The body of St Anne had been safe in the keeping of Lazarus in Marseilles initially until it became the scene of repeated invasion and siege. In time a successor to Lazarus decided that this holy relic was not safe and after receiving counsel with other churchmen it was decided that the Bishopric of Apt, founded by St Maximin, should have the honour of keeping and protecting her venerated remains. To be continued next week!