An ancient religious faith …

Since the first century, Christian history has been deeply rooted in the land of Provence, bequeathing us stone testimonies that symbolise the faith and crystallise the memory. initially persecuted, the communities faithful to Christ took off when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire.

In the Vth century, the Abbey of Saint-Victor in Marseille and the Abbey of Montmajour in Arles were founded, whose influence – both political and religious – went beyond the limits of Provence. It was the abbots of Saint-Victor who, around the year 1100, established a priory dedicated to Saint-Nazaire at the mouth of the Reppe on land they owned. The village which, after the XIIIth century, take birth in the shelter of the Tower of Sanary, will keep the name of Saint-Nazaire (San Nari in provencal) until 1890.


Fervency of the high middle-Age

From the Xth century onwards,  religious fervour took a more exalted and mystical turn. It’s the time of the crusades, of cathedrals, of the « marvellous », of legends. The legend that has Mary Jacobée, sister of the Virgin Mary, Mary Salomé, mother of the apostles Jacques and Jean, Lazares, Marthe, Mary Magdalene, Maximin and their servant Sarah, landing at the entrance of the Rhône around the year 48, has awakened a religious fervour in Provence that has never really faded. The region was then  covered with oratories, chapels, churches, priories and even basilicas … and devotion to the saints found expression in numerous religious events, in particular processions. From this period, which was also that of its demographic expansion, Sanary has preserved a rich heritage of chapels and oratories.

A builder tradition

Built in the XVIth century on the remains of the former priory ( then abandoned), the Provencal style parish church was replaced by the current Saint-Nazaire church at the end of the XIXth century. This decision, which was very controversial at the time of the emblematic mayor of Sanary, Michel Pacha, gave the church a original style, which is today inseparable from the « Sanary postcard ». it was another historical figure of our city, a religious one, who provided  Sanary with a buiding of the utmost importance: the « cité de la jeunesse » in 1955. Initially a meeting and sports all for the use of young people, the building – which the « good priest of Sanary », Georges Galli, donated to the town in 1978 –  became the theatre which today bears his name.

A legacy still alive

The enhancement of this religious heritage is a vast task that involves major (and ongoing) renovation work. In the mind of the builders which have marked history, the town wished also to contribute to his wealthness : in 2000, Sanary has established a cross path, from the centre of the village to the chapel Notre-Dame de Pitié, materialize then 450 years of popular devotion.

In 2006, the walls of the church of Saint-Nazaire were embellished with frescoes. Highly symbolic works completed for the pleasure of the ears and the eyes – by a large organ of 24 pipes. In the same spirit, each year Sanary brings to life its traditional religious festivals: Procession of Saint Peter with a wreath thrown into the sea, in homage to the missing sailors (end of June), Procession of Mary to Notre Dame de Pitié (15th August)…

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